Maintenance, preservation, conservation, rehabilitation and restoration of the artistic patrimony of the country including paintings, sculptures, prints and decorative arts.

Historical Notes

Art is considered as a foremost indicator of culture and state of civilization of a country, reflective of the people's way of life. The artistic patrimony of the nation, therefore, becomes a priceless treasure that necessarily needs to be preserved and protected through all generations. The National Museum is the government agency that leads in the protection and development of Philippine culture, as embodied in Republic Act 4846, otherwise known as the Cultural Properties and Protection Act.

With such a tall order, the Division of Arts and History was created in 1974, which readily undertook enormous efforts in the areas of gallery and restoration, illustrations and labeling, numismatics and philately, and collections of cultural and economic articles, political/historical mementoes, and war memorabilia.

The most prominent programs initiated in the 1960s were: the prestige shows entitled "The History of the Modern Art Movement in the Philippines" which captured a consolidated viewership of almost 13,000 visitors; the design and installation of the Malacanang Museum; the research work on the authenticity of "The Notice of Amnesty" issued by Major Arthur McArthur; the "Duh-Igan" transfer rites of the Ifugaos; the exhibit of "Filipino Traditions in Heraldry and

Numismatics"; the re-opening of the "Gallery of Arts" which was dedicated to Juan Luna; and the "Kasaysayan" Floating Exhibit featuring a collection of relics, artifacts, maps and prints of the pre-Spanish Philippines, the Revolution, the Filipino-American War, and the heroic citizens from Lapu-Lapu to Recto.

The Division of Arts and History slowly evolved into the present-day Arts Division in 1974, thus putting a more concentrated grip on its coverage.

The Arts Division was primarily tasked to maintain, conserve and restore representative samples of works by l8th century masters, national artists for the visual arts, and leading contemporary painters, sculptors and printmakers of the land. To achieve this end, the Division installed a sophisticated laboratory for the treatment of art pieces, constructed a model storage for paintings and sculptures, and effected the detailing of a conservator/restorer at the Division.

Today, the Arts Division is heavily involved in the promotion of the visual arts through the conduct of numerous exhibitions, acquisition of artworks, research, technical assistance to both public and private entities, and other special activities designed to further develop public interest and appreciation of the arts.

Turning Points

The overwhelming interest of the Arts Division in the promotion of Philippine art is highly exemplified in its tireless conduct of retrospective exhibitions of works by distinguished local and international artists. These include: the Egyptian Treasures, Chinese Arts and Treasures, Icons, Canadian Art through Photography, and Retrospective Exhibitions of National Artists Fernando C. Amorsolo, Guillermo E. Tolentino, Napoleon V Abueva, Cesar Legaspi, and Vicente Manansala. Moreover, the exhibitions of Algerian Paintings and Calligraphy, Contemporary German Posters for the Theater, l9th Century Filipino Masters, Special Exhibit for the Handicapped, and a hundred other oneman and group shows by contemporary painters have earned laurels for the Arts Division.

One of the greatest attractions of the National Museum is Juari Luna's "Spoliarium". This masterpiece describes a gloomy and large room the Roman called Spolarium located at the basement of the Roman Amphitheater. There the dying and the corpses of gladiators and wild beasts were dragged to be despoiled of armour with weapons piled in a heap of bloody carnage.

An all-important and significant tuming point in the history of the Arts Division was the acquisition of outstanding representative works of the 18th and l9th century Filipino Masters, including 162 Juan Luna paintings donated by Far East Bank and Trust Company; the 132 Zosimo Dimaano paintings of landscapes, seascapes and portraits of national heroes; the P 1.1 million portrait of Andalucian Lady by Rafael Enriquez; the monumental Jose Joya triptych entitled "The Origins", and Ramon Orlina's huge green glass sculpture.

In line with the government's mission of preserving and monitoring valuable art treasures, Presidential Decree-No: 374 was signed by then President Ferdinand E. Marcos, making it mandatory for all art collectors to register their entire art collection with the National Museum. To address this mandate, the National Museum created a Panel of Art Experts composed of highly competent and recognized authorities in the field of art, to study, analyze, and authenticate art pieces, which will eventually be declared as national art treasures and important cultural properties

A Broader Role

As earlier mentioned, the Arts Division is dedicated to the overall agenda of preserving, maintaining and restoring national art treasures. Along this endeavor, and in order to further propagate Philippine art, it is envisioned as a world-class Gallery and Research Center for art collectors, enthusiasts and students all over the globe.

The Arts Division is also preoccupied with research work, such as the "Biographies of the Filipino Artists", a compilation of works of l9th century masters including Juan Luna, Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo and other national artists for the visual arts, contemporary painters, sculptors and printmakers. Another important research is that of the picturesque "Philippine Fiestas and Festivals" which is a visual documentation through artistic approach of various themes on cultural activities like rituals, rites, and important festivities held in the country.

Of late, the Arts Division has taken a new role. Under the government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Republic Act 9105 was passed creating the Art Authentication Board which recommends for prosecution those involved in the illegal trade of fake art works. The Arts Division provides the needed support to the Cultural Properties Division in the execution of this task.

Quest for Excellence

Even in the face of difficult challenges, the Arts Division has stood its ground and survived the test of time. So far, its collection has grown to about 1,500 original masterpieces, including the 162 Juan Luna paintings donated by Far East Bank and ten serigraphs of visiting Japanese artist Sho Shimukawa. The Division is also much acclaimed for spearheading a "nude sketching" session as part of the Museum's Employee Development Program. Annual summer art workshops for out-of-school youths and underprivileged children with a flair for visual art are likewise regularly held.

Arts Division Head William S, Pascua is ably supported by the following staff: Nicanor A Legazpi Jr, Noel E, Escultura, Chita T. Santiago, Ben Oliver M. Matias, Rafael Conception, Persia. M. Hermitanio, Lilian R. Cadiente, Manolito C. Remulla, Raymundo T Esguerra, Charmyn G. Florida and Danilo A. Ilagan. Through more extensive and persevering art collection efforts of the entire division and with adequate support from the national government as well as the general public, the Arts Division is expected to surpass its already meritorious achievements in the years to come.

taken from the

"A Voyage of 100 Years"

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