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City Art Guide: Manila

ByKim Tay
City Art Guide: Manila

The Philippines is one of the biggest up-and-coming markets in Asian contemporary art, and Manila is the centre of this growing scene. There are galleries, museums, design shops and other art spaces scattered around the city, all with something different to offer. Keep reading for The Artling’s top art picks in the Filipino capital!

Quick Tips

Getting around in Manila can be a hassle if you don’t time it well, or, sometimes, even if you do. The best thing to do is to time your travel to avoid peak times (morning rush hour, lunchtime, and in the evenings). If you do get stuck during peak hours, be prepared with a book or some form of entertainment because it could take you one to two hours to reach your destination. The easiest way to explore the city is by hiring a driver or getting an Uber!

The best time to go is in February during Art Fair Philippines, the leading art fair in the city set unconventionally in a carpark in central Makati. Galleries time their exhibition openings and there are events throughout the fair duration.

Raffy Napay installation at Art Fair Philippines 2016

To avoid getting stuck in traffic, it’s best to stay within walking distance of the art fair, which is conveniently located in the centre of Makati City. There are a number of hotels in that area, such as the Shangri-La and the Fairmont.

If you’re looking for a quick bite to eat, the Ayala Café, connected to the Ayala Museum, is near the fair and provides some hearty Southeast Asian staples. For a drink, don’t miss the kitschy speakeasies in Manila like Bank Bar, with its entrance within a 7-Eleven, or ABV with its antique elevator shaft that transports you to the Prohibition Era.

Commercial Galleries


1335 MABINI 
C01 Karrivin Plaza, Chino Roces Ave. Extension, Makati City, 1630

Installation view of Indy Paredes' solo exhibition at 1335 MABINI

Image courtesy of 1335 MABINI

Housed in a colonial mansion dating back to 1902, 1335 MABINI is a multidisciplinary space that hosts exhibitions, workshops, lectures, and an artist-in-residence program. With a mission to promote cultural exchange, 1335 Mabini represents artists from all over Asia and focuses especially on new media, video and installation art.   

Altro Mondo Arte
3rd Level, Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati City 1228

Established in 2010, Altro Mondo has endeavored to showcase art from both the Philippines and abroad, partnering with young and established curators to present their exhibitions. 

277 Connecticut St., Greenhills East, Mandaluyong City

Image courtesy of Artinformal

Artinformal was established in 2004 by a group of contemporary Filipino artists as an initiative to bring art and its practice closer to the community through exhibitions and art education. The gallery, opened in 2006, promotes and features a broad range of art forms all under the rubric of creative exchange and encounters. In 2018, Artinformal opened a new gallery in Makati City. The new space features solo exhibitions by selected artists while the original space now shows curator-led exhibitions.

Art Underground 
814 Balagtas St., Barangay Addition Hills, Mandaluyong City 1550

Presenting artists who fuse various disciplines, from art to literature to fashion, Art Underground is a platform for projects that challenge preconceived notions of what art is.

Blanc Gallery 
145 Katipunan Ave., St. Ignatius Village, Quezon City 1110

Installation view of Blanc Gallery

Image courtesy of Blanc Gallery

Blanc Gallery had its first exhibition in 2006 and was established a year before that. It is devoted to supporting established and emerging Filipino artists. They merged their three spaces into its current Quezon City location in 2013, giving Filipino artists, both emerging and established, a place to experiment and develop their practice.

Crucible Gallery 
Bldg. A, SM Megamall, EDSA Corner, Dona Julia Vargas Ave, Ortigas Ctr, Mandaluyong 1550

Crucible Gallery has been around for twenty years, and they represent a range of artists, from young talents to National Artists like Arturo Luz. 

Finale Art File 
2241 Chino Roces Ave., Makati

“Stick Up Don’t Move Smile: Reinventing Black, 1957 to Today” at Finale Art File

Image courtesy of Finale Art File 

Starting as a mall kiosk selling works on paper, Finale Art File has since presented hundreds of exhibits in the two decades since then. Their roster includes both modern and contemporary artists, providing a holistic view of art history and the contemporary scene in the Philippines.

Galleria Duemila 
210 Loring St, 1300 Pasay City

"Space Dust" by Trek Valdizno at Galleria Duemila

Image courtesy of Galleria Duemila

The oldest commercial gallery in the Philippines, Galleria Duemila was established in 1975 and specializes in contemporary paintings, sculptures, works on paper and installations, as well as rare secondary market works by modern Filipino masters.

Galerie Stephanie 
Unit 4021, 4th Floor, East Wing Shangri-La Plaza Mall, EDSA corner Shaw Boulevard, Barangay Wack Wack, Mandaluyong 1552

Galerie Stephanie works with renowned National Artists as well as younger emerging artists, with whom they work closely with curators and consultants to develop their artworks and practice. 

Oca Villamiel's installation work

Image courtesy of Light & Space Contemporary

3rd Floor MOs Design Bldg, B2 9th Ave., Bonifacio High St, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig

MO_Space is an artist-run gallery that works with emerging artists to put on innovative shows, from contemporary installations to performances to video works.

Silverlens Galleries 
2263 Don Chino Roces, Ave. Extension, Makati City 1231

Image courtesy of Silverlens Galleries

Silverlens Galleries just reopened in a brand new space, a few blocks down from their original gallery. The two-storey building has two gallery spaces, a viewing room, a library, studios and storage area. Silverlens has an impressive roster, including Maria Taniguchi who has received the Hugo Boss Asia Art Award and Martha Atienza, on the shortlist for the Asian edition of the Benesse Prize. 

The Drawing Room
Bldg. C Karrivin Plaza, 2316 Chino Roces, Avenue Extension Brgy, Magallanes, Makati City 1231

The Drawing Room started as a gallery focusing on works on paper in 1998, but has since expanded significantly to encompass works in a variety of media by artists from all over the Philippines.

Tin-Aw Art Gallery 
Upper Ground Floor, Somerset Olympia Bldg., Makati Ave. cor. Sto. Tomas Street, Makati City 1225

Installation view of Mike Adrao's solo exhibition at Tin-Aw Art Gallery

Image courtesy of Tin-Aw Art Gallery

With a name taken from the Filipino word that means 'clear water', Tin-Aw Art Gallery was launched in 2008. Set on the ground floor of a serviced apartment building, the modest exhibition space plays host to solo and group exhibitions by both emerging and established artists. The gallery represents artists Mike Adrao, Bea Alcala, Pope Bacay, Santiago Bose, Francis Commeyne, Brenda Fajardo, Kitty Kaburo, Henrielle Pagkaliwangan, Lee Paje and Don Salubayba.

West Gallery 
48 West Avenue, Quezon City

With four gallery spaces, a visit to West Gallery is guaranteed to give you a good overview of some of the best emerging artists coming out of the Philippines.

Vinyl On Vinyl 
22241 Pasillo 18, La Fuerza Compound 1, Chino Roces Ave., Makati

Aiming to merge the fields of art, toys, and music in one space, Vinyl On Vinyl is an eclectic gallery housed in a warehouse space on Chino Roces Avenue in Makati, presenting exhibitions of illustrations, street, and pop art.



Ateneo Art Gallery 
Ateneo Art Gallery, Arts Wing, Areté, Ateneo de Manila University, Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City

Established in 1960, Ateneo Art Gallery grew out of acclaimed artist Fernando Zobel’s bequest of his collection of post-war works by key Filipino artists. Today, the gallery hosts innovative exhibitions and public programs, including the Ateneo Art Awards that highlights emerging artists in the Philippines. 

Ayala Museum 
Makati Ave corner, De La Rosa St, Greenbelt Park, Makati City, 1224

Exterior of the museum at night

Image courtesy of Ayala Museum

Ayala Museum is located in Makati city, right across from the Art Fair Philippines venue. It is run privately by the Ayala Foundation and houses its permanent collection of artifacts on Filipino art, culture, and history as well as exhibitions of international and local artists. 

Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (MCAD) 
Ground Floor, Benilde School of Design and Arts Campus Dominga, Malate,1004

Michael Lin's "Locomotion" at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design

Image courtesy of MCAD

Tucked away from the touristy area of Makati, the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (MCAD) is a hidden gem located within the campus of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde. It's a huge warehouse space that hosts a selection of local, regional and international artists. 

Metropolitan Museum of Manila 
Bangko Sentral ng, Pilipinas Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Malate-Manila 1554

The Metropolitan Museum of Manila just celebrated its 40th anniversary, after its founding in 1976. The museum features historical artifacts and artworks, some of which were donations to the museum’s permanent collection, as well as a growing contemporary collection of artworks by Filipino artists. 

Bellas Artes Projects 
2/F The Alley at Karrivin, 2316 Chino Roces Ave, Makati City 1231

Image courtesy of Bellas Artes Projects

Founded in 2013, Bellas Artes Projects is a registered non- profit foundation centered on supporting the production of contemporary artists, providing a space of experimentation and interdisciplinary collaboration with Filipino heritage building and craft techniques. 

Calle Wright 
1890 Vasquez St. Malate

Image courtesy of Calle Wright

Calle Wright is an art house located in the heart of Malate, Manila. An initiative realized by Isa Lorenzo and Rachel Rillo of Silverlens, it is a venue for mid-career and established artists to exhibit their work within a historical context. As an art space, it aims to engage community audiences and spaces within Manila, while also fostering exchange between artists, curators, and cultural workers both within the Philippines and abroad.

Pinto Art Museum
1 Sierra Madre St, Subdivision, Antipolo, 1870 Rizal, Philippines


Image courtesy of Let's Wander Around 

Image courtesy of Wander Hacker

Set aside a day to visit Pintô Art Museum, a project of Dr. Joven Cuanang, the former director of St Luke’s Medical Center. It started off as a small plot of land, taking 10 years to transform into the oasis that it is today. Inspired by Filipino ancestral houses, Spanish colonial churches and American mission architectures, this museum houses one of the best private collections of Philippine art. New additions include a museum for indigenous art, and the Pinto Academy - a school for visual arts, dance, theatre and literature. The Pintô Art Museum is also now one of the 25 most Instagrammed museums in the world according to ArtNet.

Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.

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