MUSEUM EDUCATION DIVISION
Dissemination of museum knowledge to all sectors of the society through school and public programs, trainings and workshops, lectures, exhibitions, publications and technical assistance.
The Museum Education Division, also known as the MED, was created on January 10, 1974 along with the Cultural Properties and the Restoration Divisions. The Museum Education Division's birth was induced by the passage of R.A. 4846 for the purpose of pursuing the educational mandate of the National Museum.
Inasmuch as the MED was envisioned to propagate educational programs in support of the overall agenda of the Museum, an educator in the person of Mrs. Rosario B. Tantoco, then a Senior Museum Researcher of the Arts Division, was designated as the MED's first Division Head. Mrs. Tantoco devoted over two decades of her career in the planning and successful implementation of various strategic programs and activities of the MED.
Mrs. Tantoco's first thrust was the design, installation, and conduct of relevant exhibitions in order to reach out to a greater segment of the viewing public. A notable example was the "Suitcase Galleries", a portable loan exhibition of mini-dioramas on selected subjects. She also developed a hands-on learning kit for classroom teaching, a slide kit, a film library, and a photographic documentation of cultural events such as the Pahiyas in Quezon, the Fextility Rites in Bulacan and the Penafrancia Festival in Bicol.
Side by side with this outreach program was the preparation and publication of various literature of the National Museum, aimed at disseminating the results or findings of its scientific researches. These were mainly distributed through sale, exchange, and compliments. The maiden issue of the "NM Paper",.an important scientific journal, was released in 1990. It has since then become a regular publication of the MED.
The legacy continues even after the demise of Mrs. Tantoco in 1997. A young zoologist and public manager from the Archaeology Division, Mrs. Elenita D.V. Alba, was appointed as Mrs. Tantoco's successor. While the Division's thrust and objective remain the same, the scope and reach may have gone a little bit farther, as the programs have become more mass-based in form and substance in the past few years, quite indicative of the passion and desire to bring the National Museum closer to the hearts of the Filipino masses.
The opening of the Museum of the Filipino People and the Museum Shop in the last couple of years have stimulated larger audiences as National Museum clientele started to return and grow in number.
The twenty-six-year-old MED has already experienced three turning points in its brief history, thanks to the fiery determination and hard work of its leaders and staff.
The first Museology Training for Curators, a month-long in-service training on rudimentary museological principles and museographical techniques was initiated by Mrs. Tantoco through a grant from the Ford Foundation. It later became a model for the conduct of a regular Annual Basic Museology Training for Curators and Museum Workers.
The public viewership data of 1988 experienced a remarkable 90°Io increase, due to the opening of six major exhibits in 1987: Maritime Exhibit (Griffin); Prehistoric Pottery; Oro-Plata Exhibition of Luna and Hidalgo; Guangdong Ceramics from Butuan and other sites; Under the Master's Gaze Series by R. Puruganan and C. Legaspi; and, the ASEAN-Japan Children's Art Exhibition. The Museum generated an all-time high record of 353,310 visitors in 1999 due to the massive tri-media exposure in line with the opening of the Museum of the Filipino People.
Lastly, innovations in exhibits are in the upsurge in the last decade or so. From the "Suitcase Galleries" to dioramas and shelf displays, the exhibits have now become more real, elaborate, and advanced. In the Fort Pilar Museum in Zamboanga, a Walk-in Exhibit that started last year features a true-to-life diorama complete with an interplay of lights and sounds of birds and insects to delight visitors. A technological breakthrough, insofar as exhibitions are concerned, is the interactive multi-media CD-ROM database that consists of colored illustrations and systematic catalog entries. The National Museum Birdbase Ornithological Collection and the San Diego: Lost Galleon Exhibit are now utilizing the CD-ROM format of presentation.
A Broader Role
The underlying principle behind the role of the Museum Education Division is the fact that all scientific endeavors, researches, and findings will be rendered meaningless if these are not effectively disseminated to the end-users and the taxpayers. On this note and along with its mandate of delivering educational services to the public, the Division directs its attention towards translating scientific information derived from researches into simple and understandable form.
The mounting of permanent and special exhibitions in various disciplines is still a dominant preoccupation of the Division, although the production of all forms of literature (books, journals, brochures, handbooks, maps, flyers, etc.) remains a major agenda. Of late, the much talked about use of advanced technology such as CD-ROMs in furthering the goal of the Division is an added attraction particularly among students and professionals. This program is being pushed forward in response to the growing national clamor for globalization through information technology.
Quite interestingly, the target clientele of the National Museum has become more varied in socio-economic background to include elementary and high school students, out-of school youth, and under-privileged sectors of society. This certainly calls for more ingenuity, creativity, and resourcefulness in program planning and supplementary work, a challenge that goads the twenty two MED researchers and staff.
The new programs introduced by Mrs. Alba are worth citing. The NM Volunteer Program, Student Apprenticeship Program, Story Telling Sessions at NM, On-the-Spot Poster Making Contest for Children, and Curriculum-Based Museum Module for Children are believed to be an excellent blueprint for more improved mass-based programs and projects in direct relation to the educational agenda of the Museum.
Quest for Excellence
The fame and success that the Museum Education Division enjoys today is a product of long years of hard work, patience, and careful planning started by the late Mrs. Tantoco. It was through her high spirit, unfailing commitment and passion for excellence that has catapulted the Division to its present status. Mrs. Tantoco's effort was duly recognized when she was awarded as Outstanding Employee of the Department of Education in the `1980s.
Behind Mrs. Tantoco's every step is a set of footsteps belonging to her protege, Mrs. Alba. After many educationally productive years with her mentor, Mrs. Alba strives to set new records of achievement for the Division. She has been granted scholarship or fellowship trips abroad including Southeast Asia, U.S.A., and Europe for the purpose of further improving the quality of educational programs being launched by the National Museum.
We see the people at the Museum Education Division as visionaries - anticipating today what the people will need tomorrow. In the following years, we will witness their vision come true.
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