The National Museum of Natural History (Pambansang Museo ng Likas na Kasaysayan) is located inside the former Agriculture and Commerce Building/former Department of Tourism Building within Rizal Park. It is operated by the National Museum of the Philippines.
In 2013, the P1 billion project for retrofitting the neoclassical structure was awarded to Dominic Galicia Architects (involved the maintenance of the building’s facade except for the addition of a glass dome supported by a double helix structure) and Interior Designer Tina Periquet.
“The Tree of Life” – the glass dome design and double helix support structure which covers the courtyard of the six-storey building, was inspired from the composition of the DNA.
Inaugurated last September 30, 2017, the grand opening is slated on May 18, 2018 which also coincides with International Museum Day.
Draped on the walls are three-storey portraits of three famous species endemic to the Philippines are draped around the walls: The Philippine Tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis), The Philippine Tarsier (Carlito syrichta) and The Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi)
Rafflesia, named after Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles which led the expedition in 1818 in a rainforest in Bengkulu, Sumatra which led to its discovery. It has approximately 28 species all found in southeastern Asia (Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines).
Also known as the “corpse flower” or “meat flower” because it looks like and smells like rotting flesh. It has no stems, leaves or roots and the only visible part of its vine genus is its five-petaled flower that can grow from 12 centimeters to over 100 centimeters (39 inches in diameter) and can weigh up to 10 kilograms (22 pounds).
Marine and Terrestrial cabinet of curiosities – encyclopedic collections of objects whose categorical boundaries were, in Renaissance Europe, yet to be defined. The term cabinet originally described a room rather than a piece of furniture. The classic cabinet of curiosities emerged in the 16th century, although more rudimentary collections had existed earlier. Modern terminology would categorize the objects included as belonging to natural history, geology, ethnography, archeaology, religious or historical relics, works of art and antiquities.
Taxidermy is the preserving of an animal’s body via stuffing or mounting for the purpose of display or study. It is practiced primarily on vertebrates (mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and less commonly on amphibians) but can also be done to larger insects and arachnids under some circumstances.
Flora de Filipinas – (deluxe version) by Francisco Manuel Blanco, O.S.A., published in Barcelona with colored lithographsbased on illustrations or plates by seventeen Filipino artists, some well-known like Felix Resurrection Hidalgo, Felix Martinez, Felix Pardo de Tavera, Miguel Zaragosa and Lorenzo Guerrero. Some were not well-known like Cayetano Arguelles, Francisco Domingo, Rosendo Garcia, Juan Garcia, Regino Garcia, and Isidro Llada and R. L. Salamanca. As was customary in botanical researh, the artists were not acknowledged in Blanco’s text but they did sign their respective works.
Butterfly Collection and Pinning – The method for collecting butterflies (Lepidotera) involves variable techniques such as “netting” where an individual equipped with a net attached to a circular loop with an expanded pole, actively searches and chases the butterfly for capture. Other standard protocols consist of the use of passive techniques where a contraption (e.g. butterfly trap) is left with a bait to attract butterflies and eventually ensnaring them. Once the specimens have been captured, the collector carefully handles the butterflies by their bodies, avoiding the wings and placing them inside waxy paper triangles to restrain the butterflies and keep the scales from rubbing off of each wings. The specimens are then taken back from the field and prepared for mounting.
Plant Pressing – Botanists use this plant press to preserve herbarium specimens. This press consists of two wooden frames, old newspapers, carton boards, corrugated aluminum sheets and bungee cords.
The plant cuttings are carefully laid out flat on top of a newspaper and are pressed between two boards, making sure every leaf, stem, and/or petal are visible. A corrugated aluminum sheet is then placed in between these layers to allow air to circulate.
The same procedure is followed with the rest of the plant cuttings, then the wooden contraptions are positioned at the bottom and on top of the pile and carefully bound together with bungee cords.
Botanists check the pressed plants every 2-3 days and replaces the damp papers with dry ones. It can take 2-4 weeks before the specimens become completely dry.
The Wardian Case or terrarium – named after its inventor, Dr. Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward (1791-1868). A physician and an avid botanist, he personally collected 25,000 specimens for a herbarium. London’s air was polluted by coal smoke and sulphuric acid which suffocated his plants then. He discovered, developed and later shipped ferns and grasses using his wooden glazed container. It became a fad and became part of the elegant drawing rooms of Victorian England, and now popularly known as terrarium.
All National Museum facilities have free admission and is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. The National Museum of Natural History will be open to the public on May 18, 2018. For information or further queries, please refer to the About section their Facebook page or send them a message.