PHOTOS: PH’s National Museum of Natural History finally opens, long queues commence

Photo by Therese Reyes
Photo by Therese Reyes

Friday’s International Museum Day was extra special for Filipinos — the National Museum of Natural History finally opened to the public after months of anticipation.

Not even Manila’s unbearable summer heat stopped people from standing in line outside the building just to be among the first to snap a photo from inside.

People waiting to enter the museum (Photo by Therese Reyes)

News and sneak peeks into the new museum have been circling on social media for many months leading up to the public launch, creating one of the most hyped up museum openings in recent years.

“We’re so excited that we don’t mind the heat,” said senior high school student Michaela Torino, who was visiting Manila from Santa Ana, Cagayan. Her cousin Nicole Figura, a Manila native, added: “My classmates would share [photos] showing what can be seen inside and we wanted to visit it because it looked amazing.”

Nicole Figura (left) and Michaela Torino (right) waiting in line meters away from the entrance.

Among those sights: the floor-to-ceiling “Tree of Life” structure found at the center of the building.

We can report that it is, indeed, just as impressive in person.

Photo by Therese Reyes

Renovations on the 77-year-old neoclassical building started in 2013 as part of a conversion project that turned two other buildings in the Rizal Park compound into the National Museum of Fine Arts and the National Museum of Anthropology.

While only the first three floors have been completed, the building alone is worth a visit for history buffs, architecture enthusiasts, and even casual Instagrammers.

The museum’s facade. (Photo by Therese Reyes)
The Philippine flag waves outside the museum. (Photo by Therese Reyes)

After more than 30 minutes outside, visitors wait to be admitted in the museum’s lobby. (Photo by Therese Reyes)
Decorative metal grills adorn the museum’s windows. (Photo by Therese Reyes)

Five floors of the new National Museum of Natural History exhibits the Philippines’ flora and fauna while the sixth and uppermost floor house a conference center, function halls, and a roof garden.

According to the museum’s staff, the best way to get the full experience is to ride the elevator all the way up to the top floor and work your way down.

Each floor has multiple galleries dedicated to different ecosystems found in the Philippines including forests, the marine realm, and geological findings.

Photo by Therese Reyes
Photo by Therese Reyes

While waiting to enter the museum, layout artist Kenneth Espina told Coconuts Manila that he is most excited to see Lolong, the saltwater crocodile captured in Agusan del Sur’s Bunawan creek in 2011.

And we can see why he (and many others) were excited to see the croc; Lolong was once the largest crocodile in captivity at 6.17 meters long and weighed 1,075 kilograms!

Kenneth Espina (left) with friends. (Photo by Therese Reyes)

Espina didn’t have to wait long to see Lolong, though, as a replica of the crocodile can be found right by the museum’s entrance.

A replica of the saltwater crocodile Lolong. (Photo by Therese Reyes)

His skeletal remains can also be seen hanging inside one of the galleries.

Lolong’s skeletal remains hanging inside one of the museum’s galleries. (Photo by Therese Reyes)

Another highlight is the collection of ancient rhinoceros bones with butchering marks recently discovered in Kalinga that prove humans lived in the Philippines as early as 709,000 years ago.

Ancient rhinoceros bones (Photo by Therese Reyes)

The museum also has interactive features like this submarine replica that recreates the experience of being underwater with looped videos of fish and other creatures:

Photo by Therese Reyes

And an activity station where people can try their hand at scientific illustrations using light boxes, tracing paper, and dried leaves:

Photo by Therese Reyes
Photo by Therese Reyes

The National Museum of Natural History is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10am – 5pm.

Have you visited the National Museum of Natural History? Share your thoughts and reactions with us in the comments section below or on Twitter @CoconutsManila.

CORRECTION: This article previously stated that the museum opens at 8am. The correct opening time from Tuesday to Sunday is actually 10am.

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