Here’s a little trivia for you: I used to hate museums.
I’ve always felt that only rich, sophisticated people fully appreciate art galleries and museums.
I wouldn’t even spot the difference between acrylic painting and oil painting.
I can spend hours in a gallery and pretend to know what I’m doing. At the end of the day, I’m still clueless about why a certain artifact is on exhibit.
That was me half a decade ago.
I realized museums are an acquired taste.
Museums are underrated and they don’t deserve that.
Museums of Manila: My Visit to the Yuchengco Museum
After getting a dose of amazing artworks from the Baclaran Church, I checked out a local museum, the Yuchengco Museum.
It is tucked in the upscale part of Makati, the financial hub of the Philippines.
Unlike national museums, the Yuchengco Museum will not leave you overawed.
The museum has both contemporary and historic items on display.
These elements in the Yuchengco Museum proved to be enthralling even to the most clueless of visitors (that’s me!):
The Master’s Gallery Collection
The works of three esteemed Filipino masters are showcased in the Yuchengco Museum’s main art collection:
Juan Luna – one of the first recognized Philippine artists. He was also a political activist during the time of the Philippine Revolution during the late 19th
Fernando Amorsolo – a portraitist and painter of rural Philippine landscapes. He is best known for his mastery of the use of backlight – his greatest contribution to the history of Philippine painting.
Carlos ‘Botong’ Francisco – a poet and a muralist, he remained the most distinguished practitioner of the mural art for nearly three decades.
This post however only includes images of the Fernando Amorsolo collection.
Even as a layman of fine art, seeing Amorsolo’s piece of art was surreal to me. Right there, I didn’t have to go back to any history book. It was a hands-on learning of a snippet of my country’s history.
Buhay Rizal Collection
The Yuchengco Museum has dedicated a gallery to the Philippine National Hero Jose Rizal. Who gets a chance to take a closer look at the letters written by the Rizal family? Apparently, not every Filipino.
The gallery also highlights a tampipi (trunk made of bamboo or rattan). It once stored copies of Rizal’s first novel Noli Me Tangere. Visitors will also see some personal memorabilia belonging to Rizal’s first love, Leonor Rivera. One that has captured my “girly” eye is Leonor’s couch (see image below).
The Suspended Garden
The Suspended Garden has become a crowd favorite in the Yuchengco Museum. The concept of the artwork is to resemble a Japanese Zen garden. Only this time, the heavy rocks are made to “float”. Some young museumgoers would lay on the floor beneath the artwork to get a different perspective.
The artwork was specially created for the 2010 exhibit Pumapapel: Art in Paper. The installation was reinstalled four years later.
The museum also houses art collection related to the Chinese heritage of Ambassador Alfonso Yuchengco’s family. The gallery on the fourth floor highlights select memorabilia of his business and diplomatic career as well.
I was also impressed by the museum’s modern architecture. I’d say it’s a perfect venue for artistic and cultural exhibitions. During my visit, the winning artworks of some Filipino women artists were on exhibit.
Museums nowadays are keeping up with the digital age. 360-degree virtual tours are probably the most interesting way of displaying museums. Interactive exhibits are created to boost audience engagement. It’s one of the innovations that are underway for the Yuchengco Museum.
Museums aren’t built for selfies or Instagram likes alone. Museums elicit different experiences to different people. Like traveling, museums have something that one loves while the other loathes. Why not see one for yourself to figure out what it brings you?
Contact: (02) 889 1234
Sheila, a.k.a. The Solo Tripper. Former news desk editor, full-time traveler, freelance writer.