Hundreds of visitors flocked to the National Museum of Natural History in Rizal Park when it opened its door to the public on Friday morning coinciding with the celebration of International Museum Day.
Visitors, mostly students, lined up to get a glimpse of the Tree of Life, the centerpiece at the museum’s courtyard where a replica of the world’s largest crocodile in captivity, Lolong, is on display.
The Tree of Life includes a canopy-inspired ceiling made of glass and aluminum that covers the entire area. The structure is fitted with an elevator that brings visitors to the viewing deck on the topmost gallery where visitors can have a scenic 360 view of the museum.
The six-story neoclassical edifice, located in the National Museum Complex, houses the Fine Arts and Anthropology museums, too. The building went through extensive retrofitting and renovation to house the Natural History Museum and its priceless geological, botanical and zoological collections.
Most of the material on display are new, including Lolong’s skeleton hanging from the museum’s ceiling, stuffed specimens of local animals, paintings of different species of Philippine orchids and a small recreation of a mangrove forest.
“We are promoting to Filipinos and visitors from all around the world our National Museum in the Philippines. Here can be found knowledge, appreciation and love for our heritage as Filipinos and people,” National Museum chairman Ramon R. del Rosario said during a press briefing.
Del Rosario added that the opening also marked the completion of the conversion of the Department of Tourism Building (originally the Agriculture and Commerce Building) into a world-class museum that will benefit all Filipinos.
“The museum will help develop a greater appreciation for the gifts of nature with which our country is so richly endowed,” Del Rosario said.
The project was initiated in 1998 with the approval by former President Fidel V. Ramos of the National Museum Act.
The landmark law designated three historical buildings in Rizal Park as the home of the National Museum: the legislative Building on Padre Burgos Avenue; and the twin buildings that originally housed the Department of Commerce (later Tourism) and the Department of Finance in the eastern area in Rizal Park known as the Agrifina Circle.
In 2012, then President Benigno Aquino III agreed to support the conversion of the Tourism building into the Natural History as one of his administration’s major projects under the Department of Education.
Restoration of the building, which was built in 1939, began in 2013 with the construction of museum’s grand courtyard. The building houses a total of 12 galleries, six of which opened today.
A spokesperson from the museum told Manila Standard that they hope to open the remaining galleries in June before the birth anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal.
Admission to the National Museum of Natural History is free and is open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
In celebration of International Museum Day on May 18, Senator Loren Legarda encouraged everyone to make frequent visits to museums to enrich their understanding of Filipino culture and history.
She also invited the public to visit the National Museum of Natural History at the National Museum Complex in Rizal Park, Manila.
Legarda, an advocate of art and culture promotion, said museums are vessels of important historical knowledge and cultural heritage and they showcase the invaluable Filipino talent.
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