I’d been planning to visit the National Museum of Natural History ever since it opened in May. My plan finally pushed through last weekend, when my husband and I stopped over before heading to Laguna. The newly-furbished museum is located near Rizal Park in Manila.
I don’t want to spoil the fun for those who haven’t been there, so instead of dwelling on what you’ll see at the museum — I’ll be giving some tips instead! Here goes:
1). Consider commuting
While it may be more comfy to travel in your own car, finding a good parking spot near the museum could be a challenge. Consider commuting instead! In our case, we rode the LRT and got off at United Nations station. The museum is just a quick walk from there!
2). Bring a tiny bag… or none at all!
The security is pretty tight in the museum, and “big” bags — including backpacks — are not allowed inside. We had to surrender my not-so-big (in my opinion) body bag before going into the museum lobby. Fortunately, I had a small tote, where I placed my phones and wallet!
3). Arrive early… or be prepared to wait
Being fairly new, lots of people flock to the museum, especially on weekends (we went on a Saturday). The doors opened at 10am, and we arrived at 10:30am, so fortunately — the line wasn’t too long yet. By the time we got in though, we saw more and more people coming!
4). Go all the way up… before heading down
Okay, now the real fun begins! Unlike most museums where people start from the first floor going up, the museum is designed to be enjoyed from the top down. And so, we went straight to the center of the main hall — to what is called the DNA Tree of Life (a structure resembling a beautiful canopy). There’s a glass elevator that took us up (what a view!) to the fifth floor.
In addition to the elevator and stairways, there are ramps connecting all floors of the building. You can start from the bottom if you want, but trust me… beginning from the top is better! And besides, the glass elevator only takes visitors up (not down), and it’s always worth the ride!
5). You can look… but do not touch!
Like in other museums, the exhibits are meant to be seen and not touched. However, there are sections that allow hands-on observation, such as the petrified wood exhibits. In some areas, there are “glass drawers” containing various specimens that visitors can pull out to observe. There are several “kids’ corners” as well, where children can join interactive activities.
6). Take your time!
Since there is no time limit to every visit, you can take your time strolling along the galleries. The mangrove “forest” is pretty cool, while the marine life exhibits a massive “butanding” (whale shark) and a submarine. There are literally thousands of fauna and flora specimens on display, so get ready to feast with your eyes (and your mind)!
7). Take a picture with Lolong!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure you’ve heard about “Lolong,” the biggest crocodile ever found. His skeletal remains (all 6.17 meters of it) hang from the ground floor ceiling, and it’s definitely a crowd-drawer. Don’t leave without getting a snapshot!
8). Walk across the road
After exploring the museum from top to bottom, you don’t need to go home just yet! Upon going out, look up and you’ll see the National Museum of Fine Arts, a short distance away. In fact, why not make a day of it and go to the National Museum of Anthropology, too! All of these museums are within walking distance — you are in the National Museum complex, after all!
All in all, my husband and I enjoyed our visit to the National Museum of Natural History, which is open from 10am to 5pm, every Tuesday to Sunday. By the way, have I mentioned that entrance is free? (Yes, FREE!) You don’t need to spend a thing to gain new learning! As soon as new exhibits and galleries become added, we will definitely consider coming back here again!