This is a dream come true. Shameful as it may sound, but I have never been to the National Museum. While it’s close to my school, for some reason, I never got the chance to pay a visit except last Wednesday and the feeling was surreal. It was just a beautiful place. Since we were required to visit the place for my History of Architecture class and admission is free because of the APEC holiday, I grabbed the chance to explore it. And so here’s a visual tour of National Museum, Manila.
A Brief History
The building was originally designed as the public library by Ralph Harrington Doane, the American consulting architect of the Bureau of Public Works, and his assistant Antonio Toledo. Construction began in 1918 but was suspended several times because of lack of funds. When it was decided that the building should be used by the Legislature, the revisions of the plans was entrusted to Juan Arellano, then supervising architect of the Bureau. The building was inaugurated on 16 July 1926, and by then had cost four million pesos.
The building was part of Daniel Burnham’s plan for the development of Manila. Upon its completion, the second, third, and fourth floors were occupied by the Senate and House of Representatives while the ground floor was occupied by the National Library.
The 1934 Constitutional Convention was held in this building. On its front steps Manuel L. Quezon was sworn in as President of the Commonwealth. The Legislative Building was a casualty during the bombing and shelling of Manila in 1945. It was reconstructed in 1946 following the original plans but with some revisions, such as the replacement of flat pilasters of the stately rounded engaged columns.
In mid-1996, the Senate of the Philippines moved out of the building. In 2003, renovation started to transform it into the National Art Gallery of the National Museum.