The art scene in Manila

I use “scene” alongside art with hesitation, because I find the word dishonest, and art to me is nothing but.  What you actually encounter in the streets, galleries and museums of Manila–the beautiful and/or the ugly–will be truly up to you and how hard you look. Often, what is most beautiful is also the most painful to look at, and what is initially disarming can be the one piece that demands a second, third and perhaps lasting look.

Here’s a short introduction to art visits in Manila for first-timers in the city, or those passing through:

Art visits / Museum-hopping — Contemporary Filipino art is emerging and more and more, we see art fairs around the city being mounted every year. There is Art in the Park for affordable art, and Art Fair Philippines, a pop-up gathering of galleries in a covered carpark.  Both are held in Makati City every February. Manilart is an older art fair, usually held in a trade/convention center every October.  If your visit doesn’t coincide with an organized art fair, the next best thing to do is visit individual galleries. An efficient way to get a feel of current Filipino art is by window-shopping through galleries in Megamall, where they are conveniently located in one floor.

For those with a little more time in the metropolis, the art experience can take on a much richer meaning.

As with the other posts in this blog, this list is a work-in-progress.  It will be updated as needed.

(Last updated on October 2015)


Metropolitan Museum of Manila

  • National Museum (Manila) – free entrance on Sundays.  Houses works of the Filipino masters, including Juan Luna’s massive Spoliarium.  There are 3 museums (Fine Arts, Anthropology, and Natural History) in the complex, plus the National Planetarium, all located in Agrifina Circle, next to Luneta Park.
  • Metropolitan Museum (Manila) – with a permanent contemporary collection.
  • Ayala Museum (Makati) – conveniently located in the middle of Makati Central Business District, within the Greenbelt shopping complex.
  • For children:  Museo Pambata (Manila), Mind Museum (BGC)
  • In campus:  Vargas Museum inside the University of the Philippines (Quezon City), and the Ateneo Art Gallery (Quezon City)

Art Galleries

Antipolo Earthfest 2011I like art that disrupts, or reaffirms.  My personal recommendations are:  Silverlens Gallery (Chino Roces ext.) and Galleria Duemila (Pasay City).  Pinto Art Gallery (Antipolo) is also highly recommended and is a destination on its own: A garden with a lovely gallery/museum, owned by a medical doctor  who is an avid art collector and patron.  A short 1-hour drive to the mountainside community of Antipolo.


Recommendations compiled from artists, cultural workers, and art enthusiast friends:

  • In Makati and BGC: Blanc (Peninsula), Drawing Room (Metropolitan Ave.), Manila Contemporary (White Space), Tin-aw (Salcedo Village), Pablo (SOMA, Fort), Finale (Chino Roces ext.)
  • North: Art Informal (Greenhills), Secret Fresh (Greenhills), Kaida (Quezon City), West Gallery (Quezon City)
  • Contemporary works: Boston Gallery (Cubao), Tin-Aw Gallery (Somerset Olympia, Makati Ave.), Liongoren Gallery (Cubao), Art Cube (Glorietta) and Art Verite (Serendra)
  • Supports emerging artists: Pablo (Cubao X)

For later:

Crafting Communities

  • 10A Alabama
  • Craft MNL

Creative / Collab Spaces

  • A Space
  • Cubao X
  • The Collective

Art Workshops

  • UP College of Fine Arts
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Posted in Art, Places to Visit


Manilarat is my ode to Manila, the city we love to hate, but also the city we love. I am an artist, educator, and advocate of all things slow: slow travel, slow food, slow conversations.

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