The last quarter of 2016 was a very busy but extremely exciting and fulfilling time at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila (MET) which marked its 40th year. A series of anniversary exhibitions and public programs celebrated the museum’s steadfast partners and new collaborators.
MET’s series of anniversary exhibitions began on September with the Brillante Mendoza: A Contemporary Filipino Filmmaker. As the museum’s first major show on the moving image, it showcased the varied video productions that have made Mendoza the award-winning filmmaker that he is today, and gave a perspective on where Philippine cinema is heading.
In November, a three-part exhibition collectively called FORTY was launched. These look back at the MET’s history, proudly shows off its Philippine art collection, and echoes its complementary relationship with its long-time partner, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
The special partnership between the MET and BSP was noted by Chairman Joselito Campos Jr: “Just as the collections of our artworks complement, by joining forces and collaborating in the past forty years, the MET and BSP become most effective in its ultimate goal: To serve the public. To make our artistic heritage accessible to everyone. To push for an arts-appreciative Filipino audience, recognizing the many roles of the arts in advancing national development.”
BSP Governor Tetangco commended the MET’s unwavering pursuit to reach out to a broad array of audiences. “The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, as a longstanding partner of the MET Museum, welcomes these programs. Promoting awareness and appreciation of our art and culture instills a strong sense of national identify and love of country among our people, attributes that foster sustained growth and development.”
The MET’s Art for All thrust was expressed most clearly in the education programs that continue to bring Art for All.
For cultural workers, the MET conducted a sensitivity training workshop in October. This is in line with the MET’s pioneering accessibility program, Touch the Artist’s Vision (TAV). Long-time advocate of accessibility in art education Annette Lee-Esparaz, together with Marie Joyce Lopez and Mila Wayno provided eye opening insights and experiential exercises on how museums and cultural institutions can provide the necessary facilities and services for the visually impaired to participate in the art experience. The workshop was made possible in partnership with the Resources for the Blind, Inc. (RBI), with the support of National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), Touch The Artist’s Vision Inclusivity & Accessibility Advocate Group and the Rotary Club of San Juan del Monte.
For the contemporary art community, the MET hosted the Curatorial Intensive in Manila in November. An international training program developed with the Independent Curators International (ICI), this intensive gathered twelve early and mid-career curators from the Philippines and abroad in specialized seminars, one-on-one meetings and site visits to various art collectives in the metro to develop new skills and perspectives on various aspects of curatorial work. By the end of the program, the participants presented enhanced curatorial proposals that display stronger emphasis on research, community involvement, inclusivity and diversity.
Capping off the seven-day intensive was the Curatorial Intensive Symposia. Bringing together over a hundred professionals and students in the fields of visual arts, critical and curatorial studies and arts management, this series of public talks on contemporary curatorial issues featured renowned curators working with institutions in emerging and established art centers around the world: Renaud Proch (Executive Director, ICI), Joselina Cruz (Director & Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art and Design of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, Manila), Cosmin Costinas (Executive Director, Para/Site Art Space, Hong Kong) and Maria Lind (Director, Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm).
Both the Curatorial Intensive and the Symposia were made possible by the support of the NCCA and the Office of Senator Loren Legarda.
Building on its strong relationship with the academic community, the MET held its third batch of Art Appreciation Workshop for Teachers on the last part of November. Fifty-four public school teachers from Manila and provinces including Quezon, Bicol and Leyte listened to lectures ranging from pre-colonial to contemporary Philippine art and participated in various activities that demonstrate how the museum could serve as an educational complement to regular classroom lessons. The culminating activity was a workshop on creating lesson plans using artworks on exhibit at the MET, which revealed the immense potential of the museum and the arts in teaching even non-art lessons.
The 3-day teacher’s workshop was facilitated by distinguished professors and art professionals: MET President Tina P. Colayco and her colleagues at the Theory Department of the UP College of Fine Arts, Prof. Santiago Pilar and Prof. May Lyn Cruz; Prof. Tessa Guazon of the UP Department of Art Studies; Director of National Archives Victorino Manalo; BSP Money Museum Curator Regina Cruz; and Charisse-Aquino Tugade of the The Manila Collectible Co.
To end the year, another pioneering program was introduced by the MET, this time for barangay tanods and kagawads. Tingin-Tuklas: The Art of Looking emphasized visual thinking to sharpen observation, description and interpretation skills using artworks on view at the MET. More than sixty barangay tanods from six districts of Manila, who have never been to the museum and who were self-confessed non-art lovers, left the MET with an excited appreciation of the usefulness of arts in honing essential skills needed to perform their tasks as community leaders and peacekeepers.
The Art Appreciation Workshop for Teachers and Tingin-Tuklas workshop were both supported by the NCCA. Due to the enthusiastic response and positive feedback, future offerings of these programs are set to be staples in the MET’s yearly schedule.
The museum’s 40th anniversary celebration will continue on early 2017 with the launch of the Shadow Forest: Encounters & Explorations, a Ronald Ventura exhibition, and a fundraising gala that will support the MET and enable it to keep on presenting critical exhibitions and enriching public programs for everyone.