Metropolitan Museum of Manila
The Metropolitan Museum of Manila believes that each person holds the promise of becoming a true lover of art. As a visual arts institution, the Met creates an environment where art can be experienced in immediate terms, through an intimacy fostered by the country's first bilingual, didactic art program. The Met not only envisions cultural upliftment, but also embraces art as a discipline in teaching non-art concepts such as cultural values, civic responsibilities, environmental awareness, and a belief in excellence. In a holistic way, the Metropolitan Museum of Manila makes art a living part of our lives.
Established in 1976, the Met was originally a museum to show foreign art. Its basic nature and purpose was "to broaden our people's awareness of the cultures of the world and to provide them with the opportunity of viewing international art in original form." By 1986, 90 exhibitions of non-Philippine art had been held at the museum. Among them were the works of Picasso, Klee, and Gropius, as well as group shows from Germany, Italy, Mexico, the United States, and Yugoslavia.
In 1986, the Metropolitan Museum expanded to include Philippine art in a ground-breaking bilingual approach. For the first time, publications, exhibition collaterals, labels, signs, invitations, and posters were formatted in both Pilipino and English. Selected foreign shows were complemented with Philippine art of the same period, theme, or style. At least one major Philippine show was exhibited every year. Highlights include The First National Juan Luna-Felix Ressurecion Hidalgo Commemorative Exhibition (1988), and through the 1990s, retrospectives of major Philippine artists, such as Vicente Manansala, Arturo Luz, J. Elizalde Navarro, and Ang Kiukok, all National Artists. Fernando Zobel and Anita Magsagsay Ho were also celebrated with major retrospective shows. The Met also embarked on survey shows, such as Iskultura, showing Philippine sculptural work from the 19th century.
In June 1993, the Met installed the exhibition Pook Pamana, at the Hall Miro in Paris, in support of UNESCO Philippines' bid to have five Philippine sites declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Met has continued to exhibit or assist Philippine exhibitions traveled from the Philippines: The Philippine Centennial celebrations in 1998 included an exhibition for external partners: At Home and Abroad, co-curated by the Met and which featured contemporary works of artists from the Philippines, and outside, traveled to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, to Contemporary Art Museum in Houston, to Bishop Museum in Hawaii, thence home to the Met. Shortly thereafter, in 2000, the Asia Society in New York and its Manila office organized the exhibition Sheer Realities: Clothing and Power in the 19th Century, which was exhibited at the Gray Gallery of New York University, the Asian Art Museum in Seattle, thence back to the Met. More recently, the Met funded the loans and shipment from Philippine private collectors for the exhibition A Passage to Asia in the Palais des Beaux Arts (BOZAR) in Brussels, in time for the 2010 Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) heads of state summit in October of that year.
Back in Manila, during celebrations for International Youth Day, and the visit of Pope John Paul II, the Met hosted a 200-object exhibition of important and precious objects from the collection of the Vatican. For the country's Centennial in 1998, the Met commissioned works for an exhibition entitled Alab ng Puso, marking the emotional event, and hosted an exhibition of ethnographic art titled Form and Splendor, sponsored by the Centennial Commission in the USA. The Met also received in 1999 an exhibition organized in Spain for the centenary celebrations and comprised ethnographic objects and art work which have not been seen, if at all, in the Philippines for the last century. Entitled Filipinas Hace Un Siglo, the exhibition was inaugurated by Queen Sophia of Spain. In 2008, the Met was one of the museums for the blockbuster multi-venue National Artist Fernando Amorsolo retrospective.
The Met regularly curates exhibitions from its own collection of contemporary art (established in the 1990s), and from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas' art historically significant collections of ecclesiastic art, master paintings, contemporary art, decorative art and prehispanic gold and pottery. Periodic curation from private and institutional lenders are also organized; though not all can be covered by an exhibition catalogue, there have been a number with publications.
Teacher-training and children's art classes have been initiated and continue to be sustained annually. Workshops, career talks, and apprenticeship programs are on-going regularly from the time of their inception in the early 1990s. A special enrichment project with the then Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS), now the Department of Education (DepEd) revised art textbooks, where the word "museum" was incorporated. Dynamic outreach exhibitions have been and continue to be brought to non-museum venues in both urban and rural settings. For the exhibition Sheer Realities, the Met worked with a private foundation-based institution, and invited teachers from all over the country to participate in workshops for lesson plan formulation and the use of museums as educational resource. Other conferences have been hosted by the Met: on prehispanic gold, on Russian avant garde art, and clinics for various art forms for breakthrough artists. It has also institutionalized events during Arts Month (February) and Museums and Galleries Month (October), mainly lectures on museological praxis.
Its mantra, ART FOR ALL, is the foundation of the Met's programs, which include permanent, changing, and traveling exhibitions; interactive stations; and educational activities. In 2009, the Museum launched the program Touch the Artist's Vision specifically designed for the visually impaired, the first in museums throughout the country. It offers special facilities that utilize other senses such as bilingual Braille captions (Filipino and English), bilingual audio guides, and tactile diagrams.
Since the Metropolitan Museum of Manila Foundation is a non-profit organization, it can continue to pursue its work in education and of upliftment only through the generosity, good will and support of friends and benefactors.
Among those who have sponsored and/or assisted its programs and exhibits are the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, various private lenders, academics; the Asia Europe Foundation (ASEF) and the Asia-Europe Museums Network (ASEMUS); the Embassies of Austria, Australia, Canada, China, Cuba, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. International agencies such as UNESCO Paris and UNESCO Philippines, Spain's Agencia Espanola (SEAC),-for checking and Instituto Cervantes; Germany's Goethe Institut; France's Alliance Francaise; the EU Cultural Forum, Japan's Japan Foundation, China's State Administration for Cultural Heritage (SACH); and the United Kingdom's British Council have collaborated with projects and programs of the Met and found merit enough for generous support.
The Metropolitan Museum of Manila art collection consists of artworks made by Filipino contemporary artists. The collection grew in the 1990s when the museum took an active role in collecting some of the more important artists of the period such as Ben Cabrera, Pacita Abad, Napoleon Abueva and J. Elizalde Navarro. The current collection is officially made up of 92 artworks -- 70 paintings and 2d works and 22 sculptures -- that range widely in styles, medium and persuasion. The collection is growing, though cautiously, and might include some international works in the future.
It also has a collection of prints produced by some of the more celebrated international artists of the 20th century such as Claes Oldenberg, Jasper Johns, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore. As of today, there are 24 prints in the contemporary prints collection.