Today, May 18, is International Museum Day and to celebrate it, the National Museum of the Philippines officially opened the Natural Museum of Natural History (Wikipedia). This culminates the renovation project that was first conceptualized in 2013 to convert the then Department of Tourism Building into the current museum. The renovation had actually been finished last year and some people got to have a sneak preview of the museum’s interiors in October 2017 during the National Museums and Galleries Month.
The centerpiece of the renovation is the enclosing of the building’s central courtyard, now named the Shell Philippines Centennial Courtyard, with a dome and the construction of the “Tree of Life” sculpture, which doubles as an elevator that gives access to the fifth floor.
The building itself was originally opened in 1940 as the Agriculture and Commerce Building and featured a neoclassical architecture that followed the original Burnham Plan for Manila. The structure was badly damaged during World War II and was eventually rebuilt and became the head office of the Department of Tourism. When the winning plan for the renovation of the building into a museum was announced, I initially thought that the modern dome did not look good against the building’s classical style. Well, I must say that the design has grown on me and I am looking forward to visiting the museum soon.