A guide to visiting museums in the COVID era
Museums in Metro Manila have remained closed since March last year, but with a shift to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) status looming on the horizon, more museums could reopen soon.
Casa Manila and San Agustin Museum in Intramuros recently reopened this February, while other popular museums located in the province of Rizal—which has been under a lower quarantine classification—have been operating with increased safety protocols in place for several months now.
What’s it like visiting museums these days? It’s pretty much the same, except for the fact that you have to wear masks when you go around, and there are less people visiting at a time, which just adds to the overall quality of the museum-going experience.
In order to comply with safety guidelines, museums now limit the number of visitors allowed at a time, provide hand sanitizer stations, require visitors to wear masks and practice social distancing. Some are still enforcing age restrictions for minors and senior citizens.
To further avoid other people during your museum visits, it’s really best to schedule your visit during weekdays (Tuesday to Thursday) as soon as they open. Expect long waiting times during peak visiting hours on weekends and holidays for places like Pinto Art Museum.
For everyone’s safety, wear your mask at all times when in the presence of other people and in enclosed areas and galleries. Don't touch the artwork. Bring your own pen for signing in logbooks if needed. Some museums have made use of contactless check-ins and health declaration forms through apps and cashless payment systems, which you can also use when available.
Here are just some museums that have reopened their doors to the public in and near Metro Manila and what you need to know about visiting them during the “new normal” period.
Casa Manila is a museum in Intramuros that depicts the colonial lifestyle during the Spanish colonization period of the Philippines. This museum is set within the imposing stone-and-wood structure built in 1850, one of the grand houses in Barrio San Luis (one of the four original villages of Intramuros) and is located across the historic San Agustin Church bounded by Calle Real, General Luna, Cabildo and Urdaneta streets.
Casa Manila, which reopened to the public on Feb. 18, 2021 along with other Intramuros spots like Fort Santiago and Baluarte de San Diego, recently got a makeover from architect Antón Mendoza, who has made it look more like a warm lived-in home rather than a place just to display old objects and antiques. According to DOT Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat, the windows have been opened, some items have been removed, and the rooms were rearranged for better flow and to highlight specific focal points.
- What to expect: Casa Manila only allows a maximum of 15 visitors at a time or five persons when in a group. Only those aged 15-65 can visit. All visitors are required to practice safety guidelines, which include wearing masks and face shields, physical distancing, practicing hand hygiene and cough etiquette, and undergoing mandatory temperature screening and sanitizing protocols. They are also required to register on the StaySafe.PH app before entering the sites.
- Business hours: Casa Manila accommodates visitors Tuesdays through Sundays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed on Mondays.
- Admission fee: P75 for adults, P50 for students and PWDs. They accept cash, Beep, and PayMaya.
- Address: Plaza San Luis Complex, General Luna St., Intramuros, Manila.
Pinto Art Museum
Pinto Art Museum is a contemporary art museum in Antipolo, Rizal. Located just 45 minutes from Quezon City. The museum was established in 2010 from the art collection of its founder, neurologist Dr. Joven Cuanang, and is considered the perfect “doorway” to daytrips just beyond the metro.
With its sprawling grounds and gardens spread in between well-ventilated galleries, Pinto Art Museum is one of the few museums where you can enjoy art and nature in the same space. It offers a refreshing spot for visitors to appreciate contemporary and native Filipino art not too far from the city.
After months of closure, Pinto Art Museum officially reopened last September 2020 with new safety guidelines for visitors. They highly discourage visitors traveling with children, infants, senior citizens, and immunocompromised guests. No reservations are needed to visit the museum and they currently accepts walk-ins. However, they may limit the number of visitors at a time and get significantly more visitors during weekends and holidays, so It’s much better to visit on a weekday.
- What to expect: No face mask, no entry. Face masks are required and must be worn at all times even when taking pictures. Removal of masks is only allowed when eating at the cafe. A thermoscanner is used at every entrance of the museum. All visitors need to fill out the health declaration form at the entrance/ticket booth area. Guests will access this via QR Code. Alcohol dispensers are placed around the museum for disinfecting. Guests must observe social distancing (stay one meter apart). There are no baggage counters, so no bringing of large bags and backpacks. No smoking and spitting. No outside food and drinks. No pets allowed. No littering. No recording of videos. No changing of clothes. No props. No flash photography.
- Business hours: Pinto Art Museum accepts visitors from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Tuesday to Sunday. Closed on Mondays.
- Admission Fee: P250 for adults, P200 for Senior Citizens/PWDs with ID, P125 for Students with ID, FREE: 3 years old and below.
- Address: 1 Sierra Madre St, Grand Heights Subdivision, Antipolo, Rizal.
Blanco Family Museum
The Blanco Family Museum houses a collection of paintings by a family of renowned visual artists from Angono, Rizal. The secluded and homey long-running museum located in a quiet residential street contains the priceless artwork of Jose “Pitok” V. Blanco, the father, with wife Loreto or "Loring" and their seven children, Glenn, Noel, Michael, Joy Jan, Gay, and Peter Paul, all of whom are practicing visual artists. Their canvasses represent the Filipino culture and tradition in a style called "realism."
The Blanco Family Museum reopened to the public last November 2020, along with a new restaurant addition inside the museum called the BRKD Cafe. The cozy, open-air cafe surrounded by koi ponds and a lush urban garden is where visitors can enjoy local coffee and drinks with a refreshing view of nature after their art tour.
- What to expect: No face mask, no entry. Visitors need to sign in the logbook at the entrance/ticket booth area. Temp checks and hand sanitation is done prior to entry. No reservations are needed to visit the museum and they currently accept walk-ins.
- Business hours: The Blanco Family Museum is open from Monday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Museum Tours are from 9 p.m. to 6 p.m. only, while Gallery Viewing is from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. BRKD Cafe is open from 12 nn to 8 p.m.
- Admission Fee: General Admission (Gallery and BRKD Cafe) P50 only. Museum Tour (Museum Proper, Gallery and BRKD Cafe) P150 for adults, P120 for Senior Citizens/PWDs with ID, P100 for students with ID.
- Address: 312 A. Ibanes St. Brgy. San Vicente, Angono, Rizal.