Skip to main content

A Visit to the National Museum of Anthropology in Manila


The husband and I were recently in Manila, a haven of “touristy” spots and we were done with our "to-do's" a little early than expected so we figured, why not go on a date and be a local tourist for a few hours? Just to deviate from our usual movie then dinner dates, we checked the map for some museums near our location. We had a couple of museums in mind and finally decided to visit the National Museum of Anthropology.


The National Museum of Anthropology in Manila, Philippines

How to go to the National Museum Of Anthropology

The National Museum of Anthropology is located at Padre Burgos Ave, Ermita in Metro Manila. It is situated a little less than half a kilometer from the Rizal Park, the most popular park and landmark in Manila. Thousands of “jeepneys”, buses and taxi cabs pass through Taft Avenue daily, a major thoroughfare just a few steps away from the museum. You can also get here through the nearest train station, the United Nation’s LRT station, which is also a little less than half a kilometer away.

Schedules and Fees

The museum is open from Tuesdays to Sundays, 10 AM to 5 PM. No need to worry about admission fees, you can explore this museum during their open hours for free.


Upon Entry

Getting through the main entrance, we were asked to place our belongings through a security x-ray machine then proceed to the reception section to log our names and other information. We were then instructed to take our valuables and leave the rest at one of their lockers. The receptionist also reminded us that only photos are allowed on the exhibits but no flash, and also no taking of videos.

The Museum

The National Museum of Anthropology is a component museum of the National Museum of the Philippines exhibiting the anthropology and archaeology divisions. The ground floor houses the various offices of the museum. The showrooms and exhibits start from the second floor up to the fifth floor. During our visit, we were able to explore the second up to the fourth floor as the fifth floor was, at that time, closed to the public.

The Galleries and Exhibits

There were three to five galleries per floor. Below are the galleries we explored.

Garing: The Philippines at the Crossroads of Ivory Trade

The first gallery we got into was Garing: The Philippines at the Crossroads of Ivory Trade. It showed some ancient and fossilized sources of ivory. It also illustrated the history, timeline and development of ivory trade in the Philippines.

The San Diego: 500 Years of Maritime Trade

A few turns from the first exhibit was a showroom all about a war vessel called San Diego. It featured pieces from the demised Spanish vessel from the hundreds of ancient jars where the soldiers stored their water and food supply, everyday items like lamps, plates and bowls, personal belongings of the passengers like golden belts and jewelry to various weapons ranging from knives to swords, small pistols to canyons.

Of War and Peace

This exhibit featured weapons mostly canons situated along the museum corridors.

Manlilikha ng Bayan Hall (National Living Treasure)

This gallery on the third floor highlighted Filipino artists in most recent years. It featured the likes of Darhata Sawabi, Uwang Ahadas, Alonzo Saclag and Lang Dulay. It included musicians, storytellers, dancers, painters, seamstresses, textile weavers and other artists in different fields.

Faith, Tradition and Place: Bangsamoro Art from the National Ethnographic Collection

This exhibit presented how creative and artistic the Bangsamoro art is. It showed a sample of their colorful every day clothing and hats, shields and “bolos”, and their unique baskets and other containers made of native materials. It also showcased how good they are at carving woods.

Scroll to Continue

"Kaban ng Lahi" (Archaeological Treasures)

On the third floor is a gallery displaying ancient burial pieces mostly prehistoric anthropomorphic jars sculpted to represent humans. The artifacts were located in Saranggani Province.

Biodiversity and Rice: Climate Change

This was one of the last galleries we visited. It featured various species of rice, jars, rakes and other tools used in rice farming. It also included ancient statues used to scare birds and numerous species of snails and birds detrimental to rice farming.

"Hibla ng Lahing Filipino:" The Artistry of Philippine Textiles

This gallery featured a variety of textiles and wooden weaving machines. It also presented the evolution of textile in the country and the creativity of woven cloths with different designs.

"Baybayin:" Traditional Scripts of the Philippines

One of the galleries where the hubby and I stayed the longest is about the Filipinos’ ancient script, Baybayin. The room was filled with objects with the Baybayin from an engraved stone and a copper plate, to old transcripts to a modern t-shirt, to photos of script tattoos and a blown-up copy of a one hundred peso bill where the script was featured.

Entwined Spheres: Mats and Baskets as Containers, Costumes and Conveyors

This room was filled with various pieces made of baskets and woven mat in different sizes and materials.

My Rating

Back section of the Anthropology Museum

Back section of the Anthropology Museum

© 2018 Shey Pornan


Shey Pornan (author) from Manila, Philippines on July 17, 2018:

Thanks, Liz! Appreciate your time dropping by. Have a good one!

Liz Westwood from UK on July 17, 2018:

This is an extremely well-illustrated article.

Related Articles