Let’s museum-hop in Iloilo!
ILOILO CITY—Experience the diversity and richness of Filipino heritage when visiting Iloilo City.
At least 10 museums built close to each other offer visitors a glimpse to the city’s and the country’s past so they can better appreciate local heritage and history.
Here’s a guide to Iloilo City’s repository of culture:
National Museum of the Philippines–Western Visayas
Museum Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 9 a.m. t0 5 p.m.
Location: Old Prison of Iloilo, Provincial Capitol Complex, Bonifacio Drive, City Proper
This museum features national collections in anthropology, fine arts and natural history that are unique to Western Visayas. The seemingly modern minimalist building is easy to spot—it has a dome and is painted white, with a sprawling garden in front. It was used as a prison from 1911 to 2006, and was restored for adaptive reuse in 2014 to 2018. This museum features Iloilo’s textile industry, fossil molars of elephants and stegodons that roamed Panay Island 790,000 years ago, and the Oton gold death mask, a national cultural treasure.
Museum Hours: Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Entrance: Adult–P50, Student–P20, Seniors/Persons with disabilities (PWD)–Free
Location: Provincial Capitol Complex, Bonifacio Drive, Iloilo City
Museo Iloilo is an iconic and historic landmark. Built in 1971, it was the default museum destination of at least a generation of Ilonggo students who had their field trips in the city. The contemporary building was designed by Ilonggo architect Sergio Peñasales. At the entrance is a gallery for changing art exhibitions and auctions. At the far-end are permanent ethnographic, historical and archaeological exhibits, including the weaponry and traditional attire of the indigenous peoples group, Ati, among others.
NHCP (National Historical Commission of the Philippines) Museum of Philippine Maritime History
Museum Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: Iloilo Customs House (Aduana), J. M. Basa-Muelley Loney Streets, Iloilo City
This museum used to be the aduana or Iloilo Customs House. Built in 1916, it overlooks the snaking Iloilo River at the back and the historic Sunburst Park in front. Gallery 1 brings visitors to the precolonial Philippines. Then walk through the colonial period and learn how European explorations became turning points in the country’s history. Explore further to the 19th century to find out the impact of technological advancement to the Filipinos.
NHCP (National Historical Commission of the Philippines) Museum of Philippine Economic History
Museum Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: Edificio de Ynchausti Y Cia, J. M. Basa Street corner Ortiz Street., Iloilo City
This restored Ynchausti y Compañia Building gives you a “time travel” vibe—from the natural smell of wood, the tile design, the Capiz windows to the sound of the footsteps when ascending on the massive staircase. Start the tour on the ground floor and discover the turning points of the economic development of the country from colonial policies for trade and commerce to the most recent, the rise of labor movements and free trade. Highlighted in the galleries are the diverse trade products that have made it to the international market like palay, tobacco, manila hemp (abaca), sugar, handwoven textiles and coconuts.
University of San Agustin (USA) Archives and Museum
Museum Hours: Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Entrance: P50; P30 for PWD and senior citizens, nonstudents of USA; Free for USA students, faculty, personnel and alumni with membership card.
Location: 3rd Floor, Fray Luis de Leon, OSA Building, University of San Agustin (Main Campus), Gen. Luna St., Barangay San Agustin, Iloilo City
This university museum has two permanent galleries. The History of the University of San Agustin gallery features tactile and archival materials that are related to the development of the university since its founding in 1904. Aside from old school furniture, documents and teaching tools, also interesting to check are the equipment of Radio San Agustin, an AM station that trained students in broadcast journalism from 1965 to 1990. The second gallery, Mga Panublion sang Kultura kag Relihiyon, features USA Panayana and Western Visayan Collections, including the elaborately crafted liturgical objects like patens, cruets, candelabra, chalices and ciborium, either crafted in Spain or locally, and the intricately embroidered religious vestments.
UPV (University of the Philippines Visayas) Museum of Art and Cultural Heritage
Museum Hours: Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Entrance: Free or donation
Location: University of The Philippines Visayas, Ybiernas St., Iloilo City (950 meters from USA Archives and Museum)
This museum has three galleries for permanent exhibitions on art, heritage and textile, and four more for changing exhibitions. The Taliambong Art Gallery features the exhibition, “Lúbiok: Hiligaynon Art, an overview of the development of visual art in Western Visayas.” The Panapton gallery features Panapút or clothing, like the baro, camisa, pañuelo, barong, traje de mestiza, panyal, and saypang, the embroidered traditional attire of the indigenous peoples group Panay Bukidnon. Related to this is the temporary exhibition, “Naúg,” that highlights patadyong as an art form (designs) and function (uses). Patadyong is a tubular skirt, usually of colored plaid or checkered patterns. Duná (“nature” in Hiligaynon) gallery features the intangible heritage of Western Visayas, including articles and implements related to the local belief system, farming and fishing practices, among others.
JBLFMU (John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University) Maritime Museum
Museum Hours: Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Location: Administration Building, John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University M.H del Pilar St, Molo, Iloilo City (1.3 kilometers from UPV Museum of Art and Cultural Heritage)This museum is different from the maritime history museum. It tells the story of the school’s founder and their successors, and the two generations of seafarers and their families. Their stories are juxtaposed with the global rise of the Philippine maritime industry in the 20th century, and how the then Iloilo Maritime Academy became one of the best nautical schools in the Philippines. Featured is the development of seafaring technology in the world from the mid-1900s to the 21st century.
Musée d’ ArsieMuseum Hours: Daily, 9 a.m.- 6 p.m.
Entrance Fee: P100
Location: Metro Iloilo Modern Arts Park, Sambag, Jaro, Iloilo City
Musée d’ Arsie was named after Arsenio P. Rafael III, an art collector whose collections are featured here. The tour starts on the 7th floor but don’t expect galleries because the artworks are curated in the elevator lobbies, hallways, and stairwells from the topmost floor to the basement. The paintings, sculptures, and mixed media assemblages reflect the collector’s diverse taste for art.
Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Art
Museum Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Entrance: Regular – P150, Students – P100, Seniors/PWD – P120
Location: Casa de Emperador, Iloilo Business Park, Mandurriao, Iloilo City (2.9 km from Musée d’ Arsie)
This museum shows the boundless creativity and imagination of artists. The Adoracion Valencia Gallery (3rd floor) is named after the mother of Edwin Valencia, the museum’s primary patron. On the second floor is the exhibition, “Kaon Ta: A Melding of Visual Flavors,” a creative smorgasbord of 42 artists. End the tour visit in Hulot (room or space in Hiligaynon), and view “Iloilo Variants: Antipas Delotavo” (until Sept. 17), an exhibit that questions where exactly is the place of the “common tao” or the everyman in the socioeconomic development of Iloilo City.
Brandy MuseumMuseum Hours: Daily, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Location: Casa de Emperador, Iloilo Business Park, Mandurriao, Iloilo City
This museum is all about brandy, the product of Emperador Inc., the Philippines biggest liquor company and the world’s largest brandy manufacturer. On display are aged brandies and collectible handcrafted bottles. The corridors lead you to a small room, where a brandy appreciation class can be held upon request. INQ