May 21, 2018

Museums are no longer just like your grandparents’ bodegas filled with a hodgepodge of old items. The newly opened National Museum of Natural History proves as much.

Although it retains the heritage of the building it once was—the old Department of Tourism building—as can be seen in the building’s facade, interiors, and even the wrought iron across its windows, its modernity makes itself apparent once you step into the courtyard.

Spanning five floors, the National Museum of Natural History is teeming with informative exhibits. Here’s a quick guide to the most photogenic ones we know so far:

Tree of Life

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The Tree of Life

The courtyard—divided into two “levels”—has two highlights: the famed Tree of Life, and the life-size replica of the world’s largest crocodile, Lolong.

The Tree of Life is at the very center of the entire museum, stretching up from the courtyard up to the top floor. The tree’s “crown” is a dome, which is pretty majestic and photogenic itself.

We also love the shadows and light the patterns of glass cast on the floor when it’s sunny.

nolisoli arts city guide national museum natural history manila
Fun fact: The three banners surrounding the Tree of Life in the courtyard are the three animals discovered to be endemic to the Philippines—the Philippine eagle (pictured here), the tarsier, and the tamaraw.

The Tree of Life also houses the central elevator. It runs directly from the ground floor to the fifth floor, where it is recommended that you start your tour of the museum.

This particular elevator can only carry 10 people at a time though. But what’s great about the National Museum of Natural History is that they have numerous elevators on different sides of the building, there are several staircases, and there’s a huge ramp that passes through all floors. PWD-friendly!

Lolong

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A life-sized replica of Lolong in the upper courtyard

Spanning 20.6 ft. (6.2 meters) and weighing more than 1000 kg., Lolong has been the largest recorded crocodile in the world. The replica of Lolong lies on the upper courtyard.

The Ayala function hall, on the other hand, houses Lolong’s real skeleton, which was arranged in an attacking position. It currently hangs over the function hall within which the 709,000-year old rhinoceros bones (which proved existence of early humans in Luzon) are on display.

nolisoli arts city guide national museum natural history manila
The function hall houses the real bones of Lolong

Naturalists exhibit

nolisoli arts city guide national museum natural history manila

nolisoli arts city guide national museum natural history manila
Guests both young and old try their hand at sketching plants

The exhibit on early and modern naturalists has several interactive parts, which make for great photo and learning opportunities, too. Go back to your childhood by coloring over leaves (who remembers doing this in elementary?), or tracing shapes of endemic plants. Or you can channel your inner scientist (or Sherlock Holmes?) as you take a closer look at different flora and fauna with the magnifying glasses provided. (The butterflies look the most stunning, by the way.)

The Marine Realm

nolisoli arts city guide national museum natural history manila

nolisoli arts city guide national museum natural history manilaThe entire space is Instagrammable, to be honest. It feels like you’re stepping into an aquarium or oceanarium. The Marine Realm exhibit has several must-see spots: first, the submarine, which features various underwater, deep sea, reef views in each “window.”

You can pretend you’re maneuvering the submarine, too.

There are also amazing details like a scuba diver/scientist “floating” nearby the submarine (taking notes on the underwater flora and fauna), and also the underside of fishing boats.

The replicas of dolphins, butandings, and a whole school of tuna also make for stunning backdrops or even photo subjects themselves.

 

Whether on this list or not, all exhibits in the National Museum of Natural History deserve a visit. Make sure you don’t just go to take photos though; take the time to read the descriptions, watch the videos, and interact with the exhibits. After all, the National Museum is not just a place to store artifacts; it’s a (fun!) learning space.

 

Read more:

Go on a virtual tour of the National Museum of Natural History

100-year old penitentiary in Iloilo is now a national museum

National Museum now opens Botong Francisco’s greatest work to the public

Here are all the museums in Manila you could visit any day for free

The definitive guide to Manila’s museums and galleries

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