National Museum of Natural History | Manila

The renovated 1940 neoclassical Agriculture and Commerce Building wowed everyone when it re-opened as the National Museum of Natural History in May 2018—thanks to an arresting design element addition. Not even a week later, social media were flooded with photographs of the museum’s imposing atrium that resembles a DNA figure. Architect Dominic Galicia and Interior Designer Tina Periquet collaborated to bring the tree of life as the centerpiece of the new museum.

Manila Travel Guide

“One of the goals of the project is to bring (the building’s original architect) Antonio Toledo’s architectural expression to full effulgence, framing the new Courtyard and its anchoring Tree of Life canopy, creating a meaningful and rich museum environment for the collection,” says Galicia.

Joni Lopez

For most visitors, the Atrium takes the main starring role but as you linger into the many galleries of the museum, you’ll discover that there’s more to the National Museum of Natural History than its eye-popping architecture and interior design.

Fascinating Botanical and Zoological

If the hanging skeletal remains of Lolong—the country's largest crocodile in captivity who died in 2013—serves any suggestion of what awaits you inside.  It would be the overwhelming collection of artifacts and information regarding to the botanical and zoological history of the Philippines.

National Museum of Natural History

A total of a dozen galleries circles the museum upward through the succeeding levels. Walking around the well-lit hallways adorned by white walls and high-ceilings adds an atmosphere ideal for a relaxed day of learning.

Galleries and other Attractions

The first floor houses a gallery that houses various exhibitions every month. There is also a Function Hall where organizations can hold a talk with an audience. The second floor is where Gallery XI (Our Natural Inheritance) and Gallery XII (Themed Exhibitions) can be found.

Heidi Manabat

The Ocean-themed galleries Gallery IX (Mangrove forest and Beaches) and Gallery X (Marine Realm) are located on the 3rd floor.

Celine Murillo

The Fourth Floor focuses on the highlands as it features the Gallery V (various types of forests), Gallery VI (lowland farms), Gallery VII (rocky limestone karsts) and Gallery VIII (freshwater river and wetlands)

Gretchen Filart

The rest of the Philippine biodiversity can be seen on the fifth floor: Gallery I (Philippine biodiversity), Gallery II (Geological character of the Philippines), Gallery III (Underground minerals) and Gallery IV (Life Through Time section).

Architecture of Manila

The sixth floor was currently under further renovation when I visited. I read on the brochure that it will house the Conference Center.

Easy Learning

Unlike some museums where you may be pressured to harness information more than you can handle, the National Museum of Natural History reminds you to take your time. The lively vibe of the interior brought on by the museum's eco-friendly design that attract ambient lighting seeping from the roof's glass panes, gives an impression that you are outdoor than being indoor—making you stroll in a leisure pace.

Reena Gabriel

The museum also incorporated technology to blend in with the old-school museum practice of eyeing a visual subject and reading displayed captions. There are viewing rooms for documentaries, dioramas and other interactive displays such as the Globe—one of the museum’s top attraction.

Celine Arenillo

The giant digital Earth shows an interactive visual of how climate change is affecting the planet by showing shifting weather patterns. There is also a plant tracing den where future botanists can closely examine specimens of floras endemic to the Philippines.

Don't Just Come for the Selfies

I must admit that the architecture of the National Museum of Natural History teems with Instagrammable corners everywhere. But I advise everyone—especially students—not to visit just for the selfies. Take your sweet time at each of the gallery and amass as much information you can while having a fun time doing it.

Manila Travel Guide

While you’re at it, and if you still got more time to spare, visit the other museums located in the National Museum Complex (National Museum of Fine Arts and the National Museum of Anthropology). Nearby, the National Planetarium is also worthy of a visit while a short jeepney ride away is the Intramuros Museum.

National Museum of Natural History

Agrifina Circle, Rizal Park in T.M. Kalaw Street, Manila