Envisioned in the 1950s and established in 1967 under the wing of the Ayala Foundation, the Ayala Museum that originally showcased Philippine history and iconography is now a museum of fine arts and history.
The core of the museum’s collection is sixty dioramas that chronicle the country’s history in colourful detail. They highlight events in the country’s history from prehistory to the colonial occupations and events leading up to the late 20th century historical developments of the Philippines.
Amongst the key collections is the Pioneers of Philippine Art featuring artworks from the late 19th to the late 20th century of Filipino artists who painted in the European style. Works of the early 20th century of the Neo Realist School and works of abstract painter Fernando Zobel who envisioned the museum as well as other well known artists are also to be seen.
The stunning exhibit Gold of the Ancestors is a collection of one thousand gold artifacts in the form of funerary objects, personal ornaments and ornaments of deities such as sashes, bracelets, anklets, rings, necklaces and earrings many dating from the 10th and 13th centuries displayed to magnificent effect.
The maritime gallery houses a miniature collection of Filipino seafaring and colonial craft that kept trade going amongst the seven thousand islands of the Philippines. It is part of the permanent collection of the museum.
Embroidered Multiples, a collection of Philippine garments acquired from a French diplomat of the 19th century on loan from the Leiden National Museum of Ethnology Netherlands, displays exquisitely embroidered silk trousers worn by Filipinos and blouses worn by Filipinas showing a range of embroidery techniques.
A Millennium of Contact displays five hundred Chinese and South East Asian ceramic objects found in the Philippines spanning a thousand years, showcasing active trade ties between these regional neighbours.
The museum also hosts a lively programme of events throughout the year that includes promoting works of young artists and exhibiting pieces on loan from private collections and foreign museums. For souvenir hunters there is the museum shop and for those requiring sustenance an elegant cafe is to be found; a venue for special events is also available.
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