Roaming the Lopez Museum and Library

When it comes to influential Filipino families, the Lopezes are one of those families you either love or hate. Nevertheless, their contributions to the country, whether good or otherwise, have made a lasting impression on the country that are still being felt today.

Even in the realm of Philippine museums and libraries, the Lopezes have also managed to make a mark with having established the country’s oldest privately owned and managed museum and library, the Lopez Museum and Library.

BEGINNINGS

The Lopez Museum and Library first opened in 1960 to serve as the home of a vast collection of rare Filipiniana publications, maps, artifacts, and fine art pieces owned by the Lopez family patriarch Eugenio Lopez Sr. In fact, the first home of the museum and library was located right beside his house in Pasay near the Manila Bay, the museum and library being a four-storey structure designed by Angel Nakpil.

The former Lopez Museum and Library Building at Pasay (courtesy of LopezLink)

But as massive as the structure was for a museum and library at that time, its location was eventually becoming detrimental to the artifacts stored there as the air coming from the salty sea water of the Manila Bay have an adverse effect. Thus, the decision was made to transfer the facilities and the collection up north in Ortigas Center to what was then known as the Chronicle Building.

ABOUT THE NEW HOME

The Chronicle Building was originally completed by 1971 to serve as the home of the Manila Chronicle, the newspaper publication owned by the Lopez family. It was 6 storeys high and one of the first buildings to rise in the then barren Ortigas Center business district.

Then came the declaration of Martial Law in 1972 which shut down the operations of the Manila Chronicle, which until then was a leading critic of the Marcos government. While the newspaper would resume operations after the ouster of Marcos during the 1986 People Power Revolution, it would never set foot in the building again as financial troubles would force the Chronicle to close down for good.

Meanwhile, the building would serve not only as the new home of the Lopez Museum and Library but also that of Benpres Holdings, (Benpres by the way stands for Benito and Presentacion, the parents of the Lopez patriarch Eugenio Sr.) the holding company of the Lopez Group of Companies. The building would be eventually rechristened as the Benpres Building as it is known today.

A MUSEUM-LIBRARY AT ORTIGAS CENTER

Since the 1980s, the Benpres Building has served as the home of the Lopez Museum and Library where the aforementioned collection (some of them at least) can be seen. It is interesting that the presence of the Lopez Museum and Library in Ortigas Center serves as a rival and contrast of sorts to the arrangement now at Makati, where you have the Ayala Museum and the Filipinas Heritage Library  at the same building, further flaming the perceptions of rivalry between the two business districts.

It has to be noted that perhaps due to the limitations of the area, there is not much to be seen as far as the ones in regular exhibit are concerned,  However, the selection is still interesting to check out with some works of Vicente Manansala, Botong Francisco, Fernando Amorsolo, and, most notably, Juan Luna and Felix Resurrecion Hidalgo, the most prominent Filipino painters in the 19th century.

Hidalgo’s “España y Filipinas,” considered as one of the most prized in the Lopez collection exhibited in the museum

What makes this museum interesting as well is the changing layout of the museum semi-annually for special exhibits that are being set up there. So there is something new and different to expect when you visit the museum every year or every six months or so, a sense of dynamism that it can manage to showcase because of the space, not to mention managing to blend the old and the new in these spaces.

The library is located at the far end of the museum, where one can see as well some more paintings, some classic photographs, and of course, the rare publications that are part of the Lopez collection. The area itself is spacious which makes it conducive for reading and research.

The Lopez Museum and Library is open from Monday to Saturday, 8 AM to 5 PM. There is a P100 entrance fee (at this time of writing) to access the facility. For more details, you can visit their website at lopez-museum.com.

 

Acknowledgements as well to LopezLink

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