Arts & Culture

Behind the Scenes at the One-Billion-Peso National Museum of Natural History

The six-floor museum is expected to house a vast array of Southeast Asian specimens.
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The Philippine seas have long been bandied as the world's center of marine biodiversity, even the "center of the center" in some accounts. On land, we have an equally rich variety of endemic flora and fauna, with some of the rarest species that have kept scientists fascinated for decades. With such richness in our ecosystem, it's about time that the country is getting its own National Museum of Natural History, expected to open within the year. Along with the neighboring National Museum of Fine Arts (a.k.a. the National Art Gallery) and National Museum Anthropology (a.k.a. Museum of the Filipino People), the new cultural hub will complete the Philippine National Museum trifecta.


Dominic Galicia Architects is the design firm behind the restored building, which used to house the Department of Tourism until the early years of this decade. The restoration efforts began in 2013 with a reported budget of one billion pesos. The newly installed glass dome and its supporting structure, dubbed the “Tree of Life,” that frames the courtyard is a highlight of the project. Its structure is reminiscent of the double-helix from a strand of DNA, the chain that forms the building blocks of life. Also working on the project is interior designer Tina Periquet, in charge of the interior retrofitting. But not everything will be new. The American Commonwealth-era building, originally designed by Antonio Toledo in the 1930s, is celebrated for its Neoclassical architecture; thus it was vital that some of the original design features, particularly the grand façade, were kept.

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Highlighting the importance of preserving the past while ensuring future appreciation for the Philippines’ natural biodiversity, the new museum is a shining example of the harmonious merging between the old and the new.

The National Museum of Natural History is located at T.M. Kalaw Street, corner General Luna Street, Manila, and is slated to open mid-2017; nationalmuseum.gov.ph.

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Christa De La Cruz
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