UST Museum at the forefront in the promotion of cultural heritage in the Philippines.
The University of Santo Tomas Museum, the oldest existing museum in the Philippines, started as a "Gabinete de Fisica," an observation room of mineral, botany and biology collections in the 17th century. Under the old Spanish educational law the collections were used as classroom materials for the courses for Medicine and Pharmacy and other Science courses.
The University is proud of the museum’s vast collections, meticulously gathered and preserved for over three hundred years in the Main Building, the collections then grew with the inclusion of significant cultural objects and artifacts.
Through the course of time, the concept of what museum is, has evolved from a mere repository of collections (Natural History; Ethnography Collection; Coins, Medals and Memorabilia; Oriental Arts Collection; Philippine Religous Images; and Visual Arts Collection) to an active agent of promoting the cultural heritage of humanity. With the new paradigm at hand, the museum envisions itself to become being:
- An undisputed center of cultural heritage dynamism;
- A center of global excellence in Cultural Heritage Studies by the year 2005 and beyond;
- An auxiliary venue for continuous learning and appreciation of the Thomasian and Filipino heritage.
Entrusted to be the center of the University’s visual art and cultural property the museum commits itself to:
- Safeguard the collections and make them available for active educational activities and participative appreciation of the global audience;
- Expand its educational role in Cultural Heritage and museography;
- Inculcate awareness through fine fold task collection, education, information, research and conservation; and
- Be a unique instrument in the evangelization of the University.
The UST Museum have created programs in the following areas of concern:
- Development of facilities
- The transformation of the hall to its original purpose as a “paraninfo”- and alternative venue for arts and cultural exchanges
- Conservation Laboratory Expansion
- Organizational restructuring and museum staff professionalization
- Collection Assessment and Cataloguing-Collection Management Upgrading
- Offering in the Philippines, the first formal course in Cultural Heritage Studies initiated by the Museum and the UST Graduate School in the AY 2000-2001
- Graduate Diploma in Cultural Heritage Studies Programs recently opened this AY 2000-2001
- Master in Cultural Heritage Studies 2001-2003
- Certificate Program in Cultural Heritage Studies
- Establishment of the pioneering Conservation Center for Cultural Property in the Tropics in the University’s St. Thomas Aquinas Research Complex with the objectives to:
- To promote an atmosphere conducive to provide opportunities for research led by the graduate program;
- To conduct productive exchanges and interactions in research and collaboration in projects among the professions responsible for the care of the cultural heritage and related activities in the tropics;
- To render adequate services by providing consultation, survey and technical assistance to institutions, conservators and students;
- To disseminate information and promote a deeper understanding of conservation and care of cultural property and environment in the tropics through conferences, seminars, training and publication.
In reaffirming its commitment to the community rooeted by drawing inspiration from its deeply shared Filipino cultural heritage and identity, the UST Museum in fulfillment of its mission is an active agent for development, preservation and promotion in partnership with:
- Forum UNESCO “University and Heritage”
- Philippine National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA)
A Glance, a Historical Overview of the UST Museum
• November 22, 1682
By the royal decree of the Spanish King Charles II, the Gabinete de Física was established to complement the classroom instruction given at the University level. The Spanish educational law required the University to provide a room where specimens of the three divisions of nature - flora, fauna, and mineral - could be studied in detail, before it could open the Faculties of Medicine and Pharmacy.
Museum-related activities officially became part of the regular curriculum. Specimen collection and classification formally began.
• 1807 through 1902
The Museum participated in local and international expositions:
1807 Exposición Universal
1876 International Exposition, Philadelphia
1883 International Exposition, Amsterdam
1883 Exposición Nacional, Madrid
1887 Exposición General de las Filipinas
1895 Exposición Regional de Filipinas
1902 Exposición de Hanoi
The foundation of the Faculties of Medicine and Pharmacy marks the evolution of the Gabinete de Física from a mere observation room into a traditional museum.
• July 1936
Rev. Fr. Silvestre Sancho, O.P., PIC ordered and directed the transfer of the Museum from the old building in Intramuros to the present location in the area of the Paraninfo of the Main Building at the Sampaloc campus. The collection began to grow with the addition of objects of archaeology, ethnography, numismatics, and the fine arts. Books and maps printed from the 15th to the 18th century were included in the display.
• July 25, 1940
The Museum’s Art Gallery was inaugurated.
Rev. Fr. Silvestre Sancho, O.P., then University Rector, organized the first Annual National Painting Contest and began to acquire works by Filipino painters, like Fernando Amorsolo, Vicente Manansala, Carlos "Botong" Francisco, and Galo Ocampo. Having entered a new phase in terms of collection, the Museum became known as the Museum of Arts and Sciences.
• 1942 to 1945
During World War II, the UST Campus at Intramuros was razed to the ground, but the Sampaloc campus was converted into an internment camp by the Japanese Military Government. The Museum was among the areas preserved and remained intact. A few internees were allowed access to the Museum. In her autobiography, Leila Maynard mentioned how she catalogued the rare books and some other items of the collection.
When the International Council of Museums (ICOM) was organized, the UST Museum became one of its active members.
The collection further increased with the addition of archaeological specimens, ethnographic materials and fine art objects.
The Museum’s exhibition hall was partially renovated during the term of Rev. Fr. Angel Aparicio, OP. (Director, 1985-1992)
The Director’s Office was constructed during the time of Rev. Fr. Isidro Abaño, OP (Director, 1992-present)
• January 13, 1996
Opening of the Hall of Philippine Religious Images.
• April 1997
Completion of the mini-library. Start of the major renovation of Main Exhibition Hall.
• July 31, 1998
The Grand Opening of the renovated UST Museum for the Centennial Celebration of Philippine Independence.
Through the initiative of the Museum, a program in Cultural Heritage Studies opened at the UST Graduate School.
The establishment of the Center for Conservation of Cultural Property and Environment in the Tropics (CCCPET) at the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex.