AT THE beginning of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the Metropolitan Museum of Manila fully transitioned its exhibitions and workshops online. At the same time, the museum was also preparing for another transition — leaving its original home of 45 years along Roxas Boulevard in Manila for a new one at Bonifacio Global City. It is also getting a new nickname.
The museum’s new location at the Mariano K. Tan Center in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), Taguig was arranged and made possible by the Chairman of its Board of Trustees, Joselito Y. Campos, Jr. Mr. Campos leads the museum’s board of trustees which include Doris Magsaysay-Ho, Dr. Jaime Laya, Tina Colayco, Ben Chan, Irene Martel-Francisco, Susanna Madrigal, Maricris Olbes, Paulino Que, Fe Rodriguez, and Luis J.L. Virata.
Continuing its philosophy to bring “art for all,” the museum joins the growing cultural hub in Bonifacio Global City and has rebranded itself as “The M.”
Bambina Olivares Wise, communications consultant of the museum, said in an e-mail to BusinessWorld, that the rebranding is “a parallel development symbolizing our transformation.”
“It’s short, catchy, and easily recognizable, and represents the refreshed dynamism of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila in the 21st century,” Ms. Wise said.
When it opened in 1975, The Metropolitan Museum of Manila was initially a venue for international art exhibitions. It showcased 105 artworks in various media from the Brooklyn Museum and other American museums and galleries.
In 1986, the MET shifted its focus towards local works, offering bilingual exhibition texts, and developing outreach educational programs.
Since 2012, the museum’s partnership with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) — the original museum was located within the BSP compound — refocused its positioning to showcase works by both Filipino and international artists. It’s programs with the BSP include exhibitions of works from the BSP Art Collection which are presented at the MET’s BSP Gallery.
The museum’s move to BGC, Ms. Wise described, “is envisioned to bring in art enthusiasts from all walks of life.”
“The museum will be an integral part of the office and commercial building of the M.K. Tan Center, as well as its outdoor surroundings. The entrance of the museum will be accessed through an open pedestrian walkway that leads to the bustling Bonifacio High Street area of shops and dining places,” Ms. Wise said.
“In this new environment, the museum will continue to offer fresh and energetic contemporary art and design expressions, experiences and learning on multicultural and interdisciplinary platforms,” she added.
Designed by New York-based Filipino architect Carlos Arnaiz, The M covers three floors and occupy over 3,000 square meters at the Mariano K. Tan Center. It will house exhibition spaces and the museum staff’s office.
“With our new environment, we are reinforcing our dedication to modern and contemporary art, with plenty of opportunities to experiment with new digital and onsite exhibition formats, as well as connecting indoor and outdoor art spaces and hybrid programming,” Ms. Wise said.
The museum’s art spaces are currently in their fit-out stage. Its opening activities, focusing on Philippine contemporary art, will be rolled out in phases starting February to March 2022.
Among its upcoming exhibitions will be one on aspects of Philippine abstraction featuring the works by the museum’s founding director and late National Artist for Visual Arts Arturo Luz.
Prior to the pandemic lockdown and the museum’s shift to online exhibitions, the MET’s last onsite exhibits were “Arte Povera: Italian Landscape” and “Cue from Life Itself: Artists Transform the Everyday” which both focused on the art movement of making artworks and installations from found objects.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/metmanila/. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman