As one of the leading private museums in the country, the Ayala Museum makes Philippine history, art, and culture accessible to the public through engaging exhibitions and exciting cultural programs. We speak to Ms. Elizabeth L. Gustilo, to tell us more about her role as Senior Director of Arts & Culture at Ayala Museum, the history of the museum, and the programmes that are influencing the cultural landscape of Manila.
Ayala Museum, a history and visual arts museum, was originally envisioned by the artist and philanthropist Fernando Zobel (1924 – 1984) in the 1950s. A scion of the Ayala family, which runs the 182-year business conglomerate Ayala Corporation, Zobel staunchly advocated for the institution of a museum of Philippine history and iconography alongside the family’s infrastructural and re-development projects after the war. In April 1967, the Ayala Museum began to take shape as a principal project under the Filipinas Foundation, Inc.now known as Ayala Foundation.
Over a period of seven years and under the guidance of Carlos Quirino, National Artist for Historical Literature, and Ayala Museum’s first director, a team of researchers, artists and woodcarvers from Paete, Laguna brought to life the museum’s most iconic diorama collection that discusses the country’s history. Maritime vessel models and a set of dolls that showed the evolution of Philippine costumes supplemented these dioramas. Throughout the 80s and 90s, the fine arts collection of the museum expanded with the active acquisition of works by Fernando Amorsolo and Fernando Zobel. With a growing need for expansion, the museum moved to its current home in September 2004.
Ayala Museum now stands at six floors, housing both permanent and changing exhibition galleries (including one showcasing the original dioramas and maritime vessels), and, since 2013, its sister company, the Filipinas Heritage Library. The museum’s collection continued to expand through donations of artifacts and objects such as its prized pre-Hispanic Philippine gold collection and indigenous Philippine textiles donated by Mercedes Zobel. It has also established long-term loans like with the Roberto T. Villanueva Foundation for its collection of Chinese and Southeast Asian trade ceramics. These collections are all currently on permanent display at the Fourth Floor Galleries.
With the relocation of the Filipinas Heritage Library to the museum, guests now have access to a rich collection of Filipiniana materials—with over 2,000 rare book titles, 12,000 volumes of monographs in its main holdings, 35,000 archival photos, and over a thousand digitized Philippine music. The library is also a custodian of important during- and post-World War II references and sources such as the presidential papers of former President Elpidio Quirino and a donation of books from the collections of Roderick Hall and The Memorare 1945 Foundation.
Like any chief executive, my role as director is to establish, legislate & administer our vision and mission; inspire the staff to achieve it; define the operational and programming framework; drive audience development; lead efforts to recruit sponsors and funders; and manage our financial resources. I am blessed to work with highly competent museum and library professionals, which allows me to focus my efforts daily at making art and culture accessible to the community we serve.
We have several special exhibition programs. These are:
'A Taste of Gutai' falls under the Collector’s Series.
Interspersed with its regular exhibition programs, Ayala Museum also calendars special exhibitions such as travelling exhibitions and exhibitions held in partnership with cultural institutions, artists, or artists groups based here and abroad.
Ayala Museum is dedicated to inspiring people to discover the joy & wonder of art & culture, in all its forms. With this in mind, our education programmes include
Aside from being a history and visual arts museum, we like to think of ourselves as a community center, not for sports but for art; an institution for lifelong learning, if you will.
Private museums can add focus and tackle specialized subject matters while national museums are by nature encyclopedic.
The Dioramas, our defining collection of Pre-Colonial Philippine Gold from the 10th-13th century, the Roberto T. Villanueva Collection of Chinese and Southeast Asian trade ceramics, the Indigenous Philippine textiles from Mercedes Zobel and the works of Fernando Zobel are on exhibition all year round.
As for our changing exhibitions, we plan for our modern & contemporary exhibitions, such as Taste of Gutai, to be in the first quarter of the year to complement Art Fair Philippines & celebration of Arts Month in February. In the 2nd quarter, our focus will be Philippine art & history in time with Independence Day celebrations. The 3rd quarter will see us collaborate with other cultural institutions to introduce aspects of their culture to the community we serve. The 4th quarter usually starts with the best of our young artists on exhibition through the Shell Art Awards and culminates a tribute to the country’s finest artists.
The Ayala Museum is located at Makati Avenue corner De La Rosa Street, Greenbelt Park, Makati City, 1224 Philippines. The Galleries are open from Tue-Sun 9am - 6pm, while the Filipinas Heritage Library is open Tue-Sat 9am - 6pm and the ArtistSpace is open Mon-Sun 10am - 7pm. For more information you can visit their website here.
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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