Here’s our guide to the NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY in Manila. This includes information on the opening hours, closing days, and entrance fees, as well as some tips to make the most out of your stay! Enjoy!

Museums play a big role in reminding us of how we grow as a people. Through arts, installations, and precious artifacts, they awaken our desire to know more about our rich culture, our history, and our environment, which make up our national identity.

One of the most popular museums in the country is the National Museum of Natural History, which was officially opened to the public in May 2018. Located in Rizal Park, it is part of the National Museum Complex which boasts three other attractions: the National Museum of Fine Arts, the National Museum of Anthropology, and the National Planetarium.

Completed in the 1940s, it was formerly called Agriculture and Commerce Building. Before it became the National Museum of Natural History, the building used to be the headquarters of the Department of Tourism until 2015.

We recently had the opportunity to finally visit! Here are some tips to make your time inside the museum smooth and hassle-free!

What are the operating hours of the National Museum of Natural History?

Tuesday-Sunday, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM. It’s closed on Mondays.


How much is a ticket?

It’s FREE for all. Filipinos, foreigners, students, adults, children. All can visit without paying anything.


When is the best time to visit?

Since the entrance fee is waived, it can get pretty crowded. Expect weekends to be much more packed than weekdays. Friends and families usually flock to the museums either Saturday or Sunday when there’s no class and no work. The queue can stretch to the outside of the building, down the stairs.

To avoid the crowd, go in the morning especially if you plan to visit the other two national museums and the National Planetarium.


Can we visit without prior reservation?

Yes! Walk-ins are encouraged. Just don’t go when the museum is nearing its closing time. Although the museum closes at 5 PM, you need to be there at least an hour before closing to see everything and fully appreciate them. Going there 30 minutes prior to closing time is not practical unless you don’t mind getting rushed by the announcement that the museum will close in a few minutes.

For big groups however, like for educational field trips or company tours/excursions, you need to reserve and book slots in advance. Normally, the management doesn’t allow field trips and such on weekends. Their schedules generally fall on weekdays.


Where to reserve slots for big groups?

Here are the contact details of the National Museum management:

Reservation and Booking: 0966-3305931 (Globe) / 0929-4573286 (Smart) / (02) 527-7889 (landline)
For commercial filming/videography, email: cmvod.nationalmuseum@gmail.com
Office Hours: 10 AM – 5 PM (Tuesday – Sunday)


How do we get in?

  1. Go to the registration area. If there’s a queue, wait for your turn.
  2. Register your name. If you are a group, just register one name. Count the total number of male and female in your group and write it down the log sheet.
  3. Deposit your bag, along with all the prohibited items that you might have brought with you, at the baggage counter.
  4. Get your baggage claim number. Do not lose it.
  5. Enjoy!

What are the attractions inside the National Museum of Natural History?

Tree of Life

The National Museum of Natural History has 6 floors with the “Tree of Life” as the atrium’s centerpiece. As of October 2018, here are the sections per floor:

  • First Floor: Tree of Life foyer (Introduction to the Museum), Lower Entrance Hall, Lower Courtyard, Education and Function Halls, Visitor Services
  • Second Floor: Gallery XI (Our Natural Inheritance), Gallery XII (Temporary Exhibitions), Upper Entrance Hall, Upper Courtyard, Reception Hall
  • Third Floor: Gallery IX (Mangroves, Beaches and Intertidal Zones), Gallery X (The Marine Realm)
  • Fourth Floor: Gallery V (Mossy, Montane and Pine Forests), Gallery VI (Lowland Evergreen Rainforests), Gallery VII (Ultramafic and Limestone Karst Forests – UNDER CONSTRUCTION), Gallery VIII (Freshwater Wetlands)
  • Fifth Floor (UNDER CONSTRUCTION): Gallery I (Philippine Biodiversity), Gallery II (The Geology of the Philippines), Gallery III (Minerals and Energy Resources), Gallery IV (Life Through Time)
  • Sixth Floor: Roof Garden, Function Halls, National Museum Conference Center

What are the top attractions?

Lolong’s Skeleton
  • Tree of Life. A commanding architectural structure composed of two parts — the dome and the DNA-like structure. The dome serves as the atrium’s ceiling, while the DNA-like structure links the dome to the atrium’s ground, resembling a tree trunk. The elevator itself is an attraction, offering a great view of the museum’s foyer/atrium.
  • Second Floor: Lolong. The skeleton of the Philippine’s largest crocodile (in captivity) ever recorded hangs from the ceiling of the reception hall on the second floor.
  • Gallery VI: Rainforest Diorama. Walk through the mini replica of a rainforest and learn about the different kinds of species inhabiting the land. This is located on the fourth floor.
  • Gallery IX: Mangrove Diorama. Like the rainforest diorama, you can also walk through a few meter square of mangrove diorama located on the third floor. See also the different creatures that thrive in them.
  • Gallery X: The Marine Realm. Also found on the third floor, the marine realm gallery gives you an idea on how “The Abyss” looks like, allows you to experience a snippet of boarding a submarine, and enables you to marvel at the life-size replicas of a whale shark and manta ray.

How do I make the most of my visit?

Life-size whale shark and dolphins

To best experience and understand the displays and exhibits, here’s a trivia:

The displays are arranged per ecosystem: the upper floors showcase mountains and forests and the lower floors display wetlands and the underwater realm. Start from top to bottom.


What are the rules and regulations?

  1. Backpacks and bags bigger than a short bond paper (8.5in x 11in) must be deposited at the baggage counter.
  2. You cannot bring with you umbrellas, pens, and other markers. You should deposit them at the baggage counter.
  3. Food and beverages are not allowed inside the museum.
  4. Refrain from wearing caps, hats or bonnets.
  5. Wrapped packages are prohibited.
  6. DO NOT TOUCH NOR LEAN ON the museum objects, displays, and exhibits.
  7. You can take photos, but you must refrain from using the camera flash.
  8. Taking videos is strictly prohibited.
  9. Tripods and monopods are not allowed.
  10. Disrespectful and wacky poses are not permitted.
  11. Do not sit on the floors.
  12. No smoking.

How to get to the National Museum of Natural History in Manila?

The National Museum of Natural History is located along Agrifina Circle, Rizal Park, T.M. Kalaw Street, corner General Luna Street, Manila.

Nearest train station: U.N. Avenue Station (LRT 1)

  1. From EDSA, ride the MRT to Taft Avenue Station.
  2. Transfer to LRT 1. There’s a footbridge connecting MRT Taft Station to LRT 1 EDSA Station.
  3. Board the train and alight at U.N. Avenue Station.
  4. The museum is just a few minutes walk from the station.

What are other nearby attractions?

  • National Museum of Anthropology (located just across the National Museum of Natural History)
  • National Museum of Fine Arts
  • National Planetarium
  • Luneta Park/Rizal Park

Other Tips

  • Wear comfortable clothing and footwear.
  • Be there early. If you plan to do museum hopping. Make National Museum of Natural History as your first stop. The people are still curious because it’s new, and it has features like interactive spots and learning experience corners that make it more interesting for kids. In short, it tends to be packed with visitors than the other two museums within the complex.
  • Senior citizens, PWDs, pregnant women, and children 8 years old and below (with their parents or guardians) may use the Lower Entrance facing T.M. Kalaw Avenue if the Upper Entrance queue is too long.
  • Aside from the atrium elevator, there’s another elevator near the staircase.
  • Every floor has its own restroom.
  • Aside from the elevators and the stairs, you can also use the ramp to get to each floor.

Reminders

  • Please read the warning signs. Strictly follow the rules and guidelines at all times.
  • Fall in line and wait for your turn. Be courteous and respect other people’s time and space.
  • Parents and adults should supervise the children while inside the museum.
  • Don’t be too loud. Tone down your voice.
  • Respect the place. Do not litter nor vandalize.

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Important Reminders


Asta Alvarez

Asta Alvarez

Blogger at PhilippineBeaches.org
Asta is the Managing Editor at PhilippineBeaches.org and a regular contributor to The Poor Traveler. She's also a mountaineer, production designer, and cineaste.
Asta Alvarez

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