9 Great Small Museums to Visit in Metro Manila

Explore a little more beyond the National Museum or the Met.
IMAGE Presidential Museum and Library

Toured the usual museums and still craving culture, art, and a tinge of the bizarre? We hear you. Lucky for us, there's an abundance of all that and more in Metro Manila—and you can enjoy them in manageable portions, too. The big museums can be trusted to dazzle us, but we're turning our attention to smaller, more niche spaces. Something along the lines of the Calvo Museum or the little venues in Intramuros like the Archdiocesan Museum of Manila, Rizal Shrine, and Casa Manila.

Use your spare time in a productively fun way and familiarize yourself with currency, footwear, art, and revolutions in these small museums!

Museo ng Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (The Money Museum)
A. Mabini Street corner P. Ocampo Street, Malate, Manila
Museum hours: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. (Monday to Friday)
Entrance fee: Free

Do you still remember when the P5 coin was a bill? If not, a trip to the Museo ng Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas or The Money Museum should refresh your memory. The Money Museum, housed in the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Complex, was inaugurated in 1999 and has since been a public repository for our country’s dierent currencies—from gold artifacts used for trading to the recent redesign in our modern paper bills.


Philippine Air Force Aerospace Museum
Address: Villamor Air Base, Pasay City
Museum hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Monday to Friday) and 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. (Saturday)
Entrance fee: P20

Planes are and will always be a technological marvel, even if you have zero background in the intricacies of its engineering. However, if you want to amend that fact, the Philippine Air Force Aerospace Museum oers exhibits on military aviation history and aerospace science. The “hangar” in Pasay includes a Heritage, Science and Technology, and Art section, as well as an Aircraft Park. Take pictures with the planes!

Bahay Nakpil-Bautista
Address: 432 A. Bautista Street (formerly Barbosa Street), Quiapo, Manila
Museum hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Tuesday to Sunday)
Entrance fee: P80 for adults, P50 for senior citizens and students

It’s touted as “The Home of the Heroes of the 1896 Revolution” and its walls are full of history. The architecture alone requires careful inspection. Venture inside and you’ll find Katipunero memorabilia and even the chairs where Andres Bonifacio, Apolinario Mabini, and Jose Rizal sat when they founded the Liga Filipina in 1892. Don’t forget to say hello to the paintings of the Ka Oryang, who married Julio Nakpil after her first husband, Andres Bonifacio, met his demise. 

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Marikina Shoe Museum
Address: J.P. Rizal Street, San Roque, Marikina City
Museum hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Monday to Sunday)
Entrance fee: P50

The obvious reason to visit the Shoe Museum is to scrutinize the taste of former First Lady Imelda Marcos, as it houses 749 pairs of her shoes. It’s a tad extravagant and you might just find yourself doing a bit of arithmetic. (How much do these cost?) Of course, there’s more to the museum than that. You can also check out other “celebrity shoes” and even learn a thing or two about the art of shoemaking. 


Museo ng Katipunan (Pinaglabanan Memorial Shrine)
Address: Pinaglabanan Memorial Shrine, Pinaglabanan Street, San Juan City
Museum hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Tuesday to Sunday)
Entrance fee: Free

Inaugurated in 2013 to commemorate Andres Bonifacio’s sesquicentennial birth anniversary, Museo ng Katipunan could not be clearer about what it wants to promote. Inside are replicas (of anting-anting!) and relics (like the poem Andres Bonifacio wrote for his wife Gregoria de Jesus) that paint a more dynamic portrait of the Supremo—often depicted as brash and hotheaded. Aside from these and the dioramas, the museum also oers online courses, promoted as a more refreshing take on katipunero history. Log on to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines website and judge for yourself.

Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (MCAD Manila)
Address: 950 Pablo Ocampo Sr. Street, Manila
Museum hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Tuesday to Friday) and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Saturday)
Entrance fee: Free


Film screenings, performance art, and visuals that make you go WTF? MCAD Manila offers all of that and more. The large space of the museum offers artists a huge playground and when creativity runs amok, the audience should prepare to go “huh?” and “oooh.” There's always something new here, so visit frequently.

Fundacion Sansó
Address: 32 V.Cruz Street, San Juan City
Museum hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Monday to Friday)
Entrance fee: P100

If you're asking who Sansó is, this is all the more reason to visit the museum dedicated to his art. The Spanish-born Filipino artist is a prolific expressionist whose work has been exhibited in art hubs in Italy, Spain, France, and the United States. Pay the museum a visit and you'll get a quick survey of his art and his life, detaling the influences his experiences had on the various visual media he mastered. Fundacion Sansó is what Orlina is to Tagaytay or what BenCab is to Baguio.


UP Manila: Museum of a History of Ideas
Address: PM-MHI Building, Philippine General Hospital Compound, Padre Faura Street, Ermita, Manila
Museum hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Tuesday to Friday) and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Saturday)
Entrance fee: Free

Do you ever wonder why the University of the Philippines is regarded with such prestige? The answer is so long that they were able to make a museum out of it. The Museum of a History of Ideas documents “the contributions of the State University in shaping the Philippines as a nation." A quick visit might help you understand the trademark yabang said of UP grads.


Presidential Museum and Library
Address: 2/F Kalayaan Hall, Malacañang, Jose P. Laurel Street, San Miguel, Manila
Museum hours: Tours are conducted hourly (except during lunch hour) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Reservations are required, preferably 14 days ahead.)
Entrance fee: P50 for adults, P30 for concessionary groups (students, senior citizens, and PWDs)

Why not pay the presidents, as in all of them, a visit? The Presidential Museum and Library will acquaint you with the men and women who made the tough decisions that birthed the nation we live in. The periodicals and other bound volumes encased in shelves may seem ordinary, but these documents shaped pretty much everything around us. You can also check out little trinkets, articles of clothing, and other presidential memorabilia.

This story originally appeared on Spot.ph.

* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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