Most people identify museums as repositories of artifacts. They are filled with antiquated objects displayed in glass shelves or cubes. The International Council of Museums defines a museum to be a “non-profit making permanent institution in the service of the society and of its development, open to the public, that collects, conserves, exhibits, researches, and communicates for purpose of education, study, and enjoyment, the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity.”
Although museums have a good purpose of educating the people, particularly the youth, I think our museums still lacks that factor that would keep the young generation from returning.
I remember back in grade school when my classmates would scare themselves off with ghost stories after a museum tour. Perhaps we were influenced by how museums look and feel that we are reminded of the spirits of the dead, lost souls and white ladies that haunt dark places.
But if we have visited the Museo Pambata near Luneta back then, we would probably have shared among ourselves a different story.
Museo Pambata is situated in the building built for the Manila Lodge of the Elks (Elks Club) during the American era. Designed by William Parsons in 1907, it is a classic example of American architecture following the Burnham Plan for Manila at that time.
Museo Pambata was opened to the public in 1994 following the vision of former Department of Social Welfare and Development secretary Estefania Aldaba-Lim and child educator, Nina Lim-Yuson.
As envisioned by Lim and Yuson, the Museo Pamabata is the first interactive museum in the Philippines. While traditional museums are hands-off center where the visitors are prohibited from touching museum pieces, Museo Pambata provides children with alternative to traditional classroom learning. The Museo Pambata “is a hands-on museum with sensory and tactile tools to help children hypothesize, manipulate, and experiment, test their idea and stretch their imagination.”
A Hands-on Museum?
As we entered the museum, we went to the Old Manila Exhibit where a story telling session was being held by museum volunteers.
The Old Manila Exhibit, takes the children into a whimsical journey back to the turn-of-the-century Manila.
They are invited to board a Spanish Galleon (this is my favorite, I want to have one at home), get on a tranvia, walk into a mini Cathedral and step into a bahay-na-bato.
There is also a Heroes Circle where visitors can learn about both our national and contemporary heroes.
Then there is the Kalikasan Exhibit where a simulation of a rainforest and a sea bed is presented using multi-media and walk-in dioramas.
The hall called Children in the Global Village Exhibit has exhibits of toys, musical instruments, dolls dressed in different national costumes. Children’s theater, puppet shows, films, concerts and even art exhibits are held here.
We walked through a wide staircase that brought us to the Tuklas Room. Here learning science is made fun and easy.
The children are encouraged to play junior scientist and discover scientific principle behind everyday objects. A moon rock from the historic Apollo 11 lunar expedition can be viewed from the metal sphere at the Tuklas Room.
At the Career Options exhibit, children are given the opportunity to express and visualize a career they want when they grow up.
A Craft Room allows children to unleash their imagination and creativity in turning recycle scrap materials into works of art. The art works are proudly displayed in this room.
The Pamilihang Bayan is a mock-up Filipino marketplace where children can pretend to shop in a row of play stores and practice entrepreneurial skills.
My favorite of all the exhibits is the My Body Works Exhibit. Here different part of body function is demonstrated using large-scale models of the different organs from the human body.
The Gift Shop at the ground floor offers children’s books, educational toys, multi-media learning-aid materials at reasonable prices.
I think Museo Pambata provides children with a good first time museum experience. It is a place where children can develop their appreciation the kind of learning that museums can offer.
Museo Pambata is open from Tuesdays to Saturdays at 9 am to 5pm during the months of April to July and 8 am to 5 pm in the months of August to March. It is located along Roxas Boulevard Corner South Drive, Manila. Admission fee is at 100 pesos for both adults and children.
For more information, they can be reached at 523.17.97 to 98 or firstname.lastname@example.org