The National Art Gallery (NAG) is a component museum of the National Museum of the Philippines occupying the Old Congress Building (also known as the Old Legislative Building). It houses the Arts Division, the governing body officially tasked for labeling, maintenance, preservation, conservation, rehabilitation, and restoration of the artistic patrimony of the Philippines including paintings, sculptures, prints, and decorative arts and in order to further propagate Philippine art.
If you can’t go to the National Art Gallery, read on below for a virtual tour.
For individuals (up to 50 individuals), fee for adults Php 150, for senior citizens Php 120, and for students Php 50. Children can enter the National Art Gallery for free.
For group (more than 50 individuals), fee for adults Php 120, for senior citizens Php 120, and for students Php 40. Children can enter the National Art Gallery for free.
You may make reservations prior to visit, scroll down below for their contact details.
Spoliarium Hall or The Hall of the Masters (The Old House of Representatives Session Hall)
Spoliarium Hall or The Hall of the Masters is the main gallery at the ground floor of the National Art Gallery. It is dedicated to the 19th-century Filipino painters Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo where the most famous attraction of the National Art Gallery hangs – Juan Luna’s Spoliarium. This masterpiece depicts a gloomy and large room the Roman called Spolarium located at the basement of the Roman Amphitheater where the dying and the bloody corpses of gladiators and wild beasts were dragged away from the arena to be despoiled of armor with weapons piled in a heap of bloody carnage. Luna submitted this painting to the Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1884 in Madrid, where it garnered one of the three gold medals.
Rizal was footnoted in his speech that the Spoliarium, “embodied the essence [sic] of our social, moral, and political life: humanity in severe ordeal, humanity unredeemed, reason and idealism in open struggle with prejudice, fanaticism and justice…”
From July 14 until September 15 the Masters Hall showcased an exhibition titled Mixing Colors, Making History. This project focuses on the painters’ palettes as an aide to their art and even become works of art. Here you can view palettes of National Artists Arturo Luz, Ben Cabrera, Anita Magsaysay-Ho, and Pacita Abad.
Sergio Osmena Hall
It was under renovation when I went there.
Gallery I (Luis I. Ablaza Hall)
Gallery I or the Luis I. Ablaza Hall houses colonial Philippine religious art from the 17th to the 19th centuries, prominent among which is a retalbo from the Church of San Nicolás de Tolentino in Dimiao, Bohol – a National Cultural Treasure – together with a selection of carved religious images (santos), reliefs, and paintings.
The room is red with checkered floors.
Gallery II (FCCP Hall)
Gallery II or the FCCP Hall houses the Basi Revolt series (on permanent loan from the Ilocus Sur Historical and Cultural Foundation) of Esteban Villanueva y Pichay of Vigan. They are one of the earliest known works to depict a historical event in the Philippines. Done in 1821, these series of fourteen oil paintings on canvas,were collectively declared as a National Cultural Treasure. They depict key episodes of the famous 1807 uprising in Ilocos against colonial rule that would improve tariffs and restrictions on their famous sugarcane-based wine.
Villanueva painted The Basi Revolt in 1821 at the age of 24, fourteen years after the depicted rebellion occurred.
Philippine art of the academic and romantic period, specifically of the last three decades of the 19th century, featuring especially the Museum’s considerable holdings of the work of Juan Luna and key contemporaries. Highlights include works by Lorenzo Guerrero, Gaston O’Farrell, Félix Martinez, and National Cultural Treasures such as Feeding the Chickens, one the earliest known Philippine genre paintings, by Simon Flóres, and Una Bulaqueña by Juan Luna. Also featured are Gobernador Luis Perez Dasmariñas by Félix Resucreccion Hidalgo and almost a hundred (100) works by Luna that formed part of the donation of the Grace Luna de San Pedro Collection by the Far East Bank and Trust Company in the early 1990s.
Gallery IV (Fundación Santiago Hall)
Like Gallery III, Gallery IV or Fundación Santiago Hall houses works of 19th century Filipino sculptures, notably Isabelo Tampinco y Lacandola (key works of which are the gift of Ernesto and Araceli Salas), as well as his contemporaries and artistic successors whose works are distinguished by a strong academic and neo-classical style. Including works by Félix Resurrección Hidalgo, Isabelo’s sons Angel and Vidal, Graciano Nepomuceno, Anastacio Caedo, Florentino Caedo, and Guillermo Tolentino.
Gallery V houses works by the polymath and National Hero, Dr. José P. Rizal, including four original sculptures and one fine drawing, View of Gendarmarkt, from his 1886 sojourn in Berlin (the gift of Aurora Ortega-Carlos in memory of Pablo C. Carlos). Included is Rizal’s work Mother’s Revenge, a declared National Cultural Treasure, together with his Bust of Ricardo Carnicero, San Pablo Ermitaño, Oyang Dapitana, as well as several portrait busts and paintings of Rizal by eminent Filipino artists, including Isabelo Tampinco, Graciano Nepomuceno, Guillermo Tolentino, and Martino Abellana from the early 20th century until the 1950s.
Gallery VI contains the late contemporaries and artistic successors of Luna and Hidalgo who were active in the late Spanish colonial period and into the American occupation and before the Second World War, including Fabian de la Rosa, Jorge Pineda, Irineo Miranda, Fernando Amorsolo, Pablo Amorsolo, and numerous other artists who shaped Philippine art before and contemporaneous to the advent of Modernism in the country.
Gallery VII (Fine arts Collections Holdings)
Gallery VII or the Fine arts Collections Holdings contains paintings, drawings, and prints.
Access to this gallery is restricted to authorized persons only.
Gallery VIII (Silvina and Juan C. Laya Hall)
Gallery VIII or Silvina and Juan C. Laya Hall houses paintings and sculpture depicting the era of the Second World War, specifically the Imperial Japanese Occupation (1941-1945) , the Liberation of the Philippines by American and Filipino forces, and the destruction of Manila.
This gallery contains highly graphic images and historical artifacts that might be disturbing.
Gallery IX houses the works of the great modernists of the Philippines, featuring important works by Victorio Edades, Diosdado Lorenzo, Vicente Manansala, Carlos V. Francisco, Hernando R. Ocampo, Cesar Legaspi, Manuel Rodriguez, Ang Kiukok, José Joya, Abdulmari Imao, Ben Cabrera, Fernando Zobel, Mauro Malang, and various other artists who were instrumental in setting bold directions for Philippine art from 1930s into the later decades of the twentieth century.
Gallery X (Museum Foundation of the Philippines Hall)
Gallery X or the Museum Foundation of the Philippines Hall is a gallery dedicated to The Progress of Medicine in the Philippines, a set of four large paintings by Carlos V. Francisco specially commissioned for the entrance hall of the Philippine General Hospital in 1953. Declared a National Cultural Treasure, these important works were placed on indefinite loan to the National Museum by the University of the Philippines to secure their preservation for future generations.
Gallery XI (SPPC Hall)
Gallery XI or the SPPC Hall is was under renovation when I went there.
Gallery XII (Security Bank Hall)
Gallery XII or the Security Bank Hall which opened last July 24 features the works of Guillermo E. Tolentino, National Artist for Sculpture, whose prolific career spanned the 1920s to the 1970s, dominated Filipino sculpture during his lifetime and in the decades beyond, particularly in the field of portraiture and human forms. His work is presented in collaboration with the Tolentino Family and various private patrons and institutional partners of the National Museum.
Old Congress Building
Part of the master plan for the city of Manila by Daniel Burnham, the Old Congress Building was originally designed as a public library by Ralph Harrington Doane. According to the National Museum’s website, the Old Congress Building cost four million pesos from the start of its construction in 1918 to its inauguration on July 16, 1926.
While enjoying looking at the artworks, please refrain from touching them. Oils and dirt from your hands contribute to their deterioration.
National Art Gallery
Padre Burgos Avenue, Rizal Park
Ermita, Manila, Philippines
Coordinates: 14.586885°N 120.981209°E
Open Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.