(SPOT.ph) International Museum Day, an annual celebration of the significance of museums in enriching cultures, is like Christmas in the middle of the year for history buffs and art enthusiasts. Admission fees to most museums are waived, plus there are guided tours and art talks that visitors can attend (yes, still for free!).
Here's a guide to the Metro Manila museums that you can check out for free.
Where: RCBC Plaza, Ayala corner Sen. Gil J. Puyat Avenues, Makati City
When: May 18, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Check out works by celebrated Filipino artists like Juan Luna, Fernando Amorsolo, and Carlos "Botong" Francisco and admire the Sino-Filipino heritage collection of Alfonso T. Yuchengco Sr. Don't forget to take a photo of "Suspended Garden," a site-specific installation by Tony Gonzales and Tes Pasola.
Where: Makati Avenue corner De La Rosa Street, Greenbelt Park, Makati City
When: May 20, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
If you can't miss work on Friday, Ayala Museum is delaying its big celebration so you can visit on a weekend—May 20, Sunday. Registration starts at 11:30 a.m. Current exhibits include Erwin Wurm's One Minute Sculptures, which lets you pose with buckets and basins and be part of the show; and Alwin Reamillo's Bayanihan Hopping Spirit House, which looks like the traditional bahay kubo.
Metropolitan Museum of Manila
Where: BSP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Malate, Manila
When: May 18, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Visitors to the Metropolitan Museum of Manila on International Museum Day will enjoy free guided tours of ongoing exhibitions: In the Wake of War and the Modern: Manila, 1941-1961, a comprehensive survey of the post-war art movement; Fascination with Filipiniana, which highlights the legacy of Jorge B. Vargas in Philippine art; and UP FRONT: Encountering the Sacred, which features 40 photographs of heritage churches around the Philippines. Tours are from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Where: 32 Anda corner Cabildo Streets, Intramuros, Manila
When: May 18, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The Chinese and Filipino peoples have a long-standing relationship that started in pre-colonial Philippines. Learn more about this through artifacts, rare prints, and photographs that feature centuries of trade between the two cultures.
National Museum of Natural History
Where: T.M. Kalaw corner General Luna Streets, Rizal Park, Manila
When: Opens on May 18, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Entrance to the National Museum of the Philippines has been free since 2016, but a visit during this year’s International Museum Day is made a lot more special with the opening of the National Museum of Natural History. It features our country's biodiversity and evolving flora and fauna, including the recently discovered archeological find of an ancient rhinoceros from Rizal, Kalinga.
Where: Padre Burgos Drive, Rizal Park, Manila
When: Always free, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Also known as the National Art Gallery, the National Museum of Fine Arts surveys Philippine art from the 17th to the 20th centuries. Must-see masterpieces include Juan Luna's "Spoliarium" and "Portrait of a Lady," Félix Resurrección Hidalgo's "La Barca de Aqueronte," and Simon Flores y De La Rosa's "Recuerdo de Patay."
National Museum of Anthropology
Where: Agrifina Circle, Rizal Park, Manila
When: Always free, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The National Museum of Anthropology (a.k.a. Museum of the Filipino People) gives us a glimpse of the sociological history of the Philippines. It houses traditional Philippine textiles, evidence of the use of baybayin, and artifacts from the ivory and maritime trade.
Where: Roxas Boulevard corner South Drive, Manila
When: May 18, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Kids and kids-at-heart will have a great time learning about Philippine history, anatomy, and the environment at Museo Pambata. It's a good excuse to "borrow" your cute nephews and nieces for a fun-filled day.
Museo ni Jose Rizal
Where: Fort Santiago, Intramuros, Manila
When: Always free, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Museo ni Jose Rizal, like all museums of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, offers free admission all year round. Built in honor of one of the country's heroes, it houses books, medical instruments, old clothes (including Rizal's signature top hat), and a facsimile of Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo.
Museo ng Katipunan
Where: Pinaglabanan Shrine, San Juan City
When: Always free, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Museo ng Katipunan sheds light on the bravery of the members of Kataastaasan, Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (a.k.a. Katipunan), a movement that led the Philippine revolution against the Spanish colonial regime in the 1890s. The museum features archival documents, cryptic messages, works of art, and bladed weapons used by the Katipuneros. There's also an audio recording of Andres Bonifacio's poem Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa.