Since October is Museums and Galleries Month, let me take you around this museum for nature lovers — the National Museum of Natural History in Manila!
I know this should be an informative post about the new museum in Manila, The National Museum of Natural History. But let’s face it. One of the top reasons to go here — why it took social media by storm — is because of its highly Instagrammable interiors.
In the middle of 2018, the National Museum of Natural History finally opened. It’s now part of the National Museum complex, with the Anthropology and Fine Arts Museums. Since then, I’ve dreamed of visiting its white marble walls contrasted with giant tapestries of animals endemic to the Philippines, like the tarsier, tamaraw, and monkey-eating eagle.
Growing up, we’ve always been told about the richness of our natural resources — how we are at the epicenter of biodiversity. But reading from the book is different from seeing with our own eyes. As I traveled more as an adult, I came to appreciate the Philipines’ more outside the pages of a book.
Here’s a brief walk-through about the National Museum of Natural History.
Neoclassical interiors and the Tree of Life Foyer
The National Museum of Natural History building was initially constructed in 1940 as the Agriculture and Commerce Building by Filipino architect Antonio Toledo. Like the mirror image of the National Museum of Anthropology, then the Finance Building, it features neoclassical exteriors with white marble pillars and grand staircases reminiscent of European attractions.
The whole museum is built around the Tree of Life Foyer, which is a glass dome built on top of a double helix DNA-like trunk. The canopy provides plenty of natural lighting and at its root are remains of ancient dinosaurs and fossils. Within the Tree of Life is an elevator that takes guests up to the sixth floor. The entire museum is designed for visitors to go in a circular manner from all the floors, for everyone to pass by all the galleries.
In total, it has 12 galleries which showcase the various features of the Philippine natural resources:
- 1st floor: Tree of Life Foyer
- 2nd floor: Our Natural Inheritance
- 3rd floor: Mangroves, Beaches, and Intertidal Zones; The Marine Realm
- 4th floor: Mossy, Montane, and Pine Forests; Lowland Evergreen Rainforests; Ultramafic and Limestone Karst Forests; Freshwater Wetlands
- 5th floor: Philippine Biodiversity; The Geology of the Philippines; Minerals and Energy Resources; and Life Through Time (still works in progress as of October 2018)
- 6th floor: Conference centers, function halls, and roof garden
It is designed in such a way that the bottom floors are underwater or shore-level environments and the upper floors are mountain-level environments.
What it means for me to visit this Manila museum
As much as I wanted to write in detail about the contents of the National Museum of Natural History, I would highly encourage you to see for yourself instead. More than facts, the unique experience here gives visitors much to ponder about.
When I climbed Mt. Pulag, it was the only time I knew there were so many endemic species located in just one mountain park. Then when I toured Palawan, I saw that we do have one of the best islands and beaches in the world. When I tried scuba diving, I saw that we have a whole new world beneath the sea. And when I visited the National Museum of Natural History, I learned to tell apart the various terrains that framed my experiences.
No wonder Westerners look at Philippine attractions with such delight. They can be so curious examining each rock, each leaf, and each critter. But whenever we go outdoors, we still tend to take for granted the beautiful landscape we were born with. Every forest may feel the same, every bird’s call sound similar, and every fish look alike.
Yet when I engage my senses — which the museum encouraged through its interactive galleries — I began to tell things apart. It brought back some childhood curiosity and profound appreciation of the environment.
So if you’re like me who has dreamed of being a natural scientist and study botany, zoology, geology, biology, and oceanography, I suggest you visit the National Museum of Natural History. Your younger self will geek out inside its walls.
Tips for your National Museum of Natural History Manila trip
- Best time to travel. When it comes to museums, it’s always best to come early in the morning and during weekdays. Keep in mind that since this is a public museum with no entrance fee, it can get pretty packed with kids and Instagrammers alike especially during the summer, field trip, and school break seasons.
- Length of the visit. Given the museum is a 6-story building, you can allot a minimum of 2.5 hours to go around the entire museum with an average pace consisting of reading, viewing, and taking photos.
- Where to eat. You cannot eat inside the National Museum of Natural History, but there are some food vendors and fast food restaurants surrounding Rizal Park. I suggest you take a heavy breakfast and pack a bottle of water soon so you won’t go hungry and thirsty in the middle of the tour.
- What to wear. There are no dress codes, but it’s always best to dress in comfort since you will be going around for several hours. Wearing casual clothing and flat footwear is highly recommended. Most of the galleries are airconditioned, so no need to worry about humidity. Wear extra nice pieces — you’ll be taking lots of OOTDs for sure!
- Things to bring. Aside from a bottle of water and camera, keep the packing to a minimum. Just in case you’re bringing a heavy bag, you’ll be glad to know that there is a baggage counter to leave your things with (except valuables).
- Things to do around the National Museum of Natural History. Visit other nearby attractions like the National Museum of Fine Arts, National Museum of Anthropology, Rizal Park, Manila Ocean Park, Planetarium Manila, and Intramuros!
If the goal of the National Museum of Natural History is to lure the youth into its immaculate walls, it has definitely succeeded. As the generation most attuned to traveling and environmentalism, the museum possessed a unique charm that piques the curiosity.
More tours to take from Manila
National Museum of Natural History
Address: Agrifina Circle, Rizal Park, TM Kalaw Street corner General Luna Street, Manila, Philippines
Contact number: (+63) (02) 527-12-09 or visit here
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org