The University of the Philippines Vargas Museum celebrates its 25th year through a series of exhibition and education programs in 2012.
On March 1, 1978, the Philippines’s first Executive Secretary Jorge B. Vargas donated his collection of art, stamps and coins, library, and archives to his alma mater, the University of the Philippines. The Vargas Art Collection comprises works by Filipino artists from the late 19th century, the American and Japanese occupation, and the postwar years. The Vargas Museum in the University of the Philippines was formally opened on February 22, 1987. The museum has been exhibiting the permanent art collection of Vargas. It is committed to providing the public access to the collection in dynamic dialogue with contemporary art. Through exhibitions, research, educational activities, and museum development projects, publications and public programs, the Vargas advances awareness of Philippine history and art. The museum fulfills this aim in collaboration with academic disciplines in the university, specifically Art Studies.
Exhibition / Research / Curatorial Projects
The Vargas Museum will commence the commemoration of its silver year through the opening of the Art History Series. To encourage further study of the Vargas Collection, temporary exhibitions at the 3F South Wing gallery will be curated based on art historical methods. The series will begin in May 2012 with the thematic approach, which dwells on the notion of the ‘picturesque’ in visual culture. It will re-examine ideals of beauty and expressions of nostalgia in portraiture and landscape paintings, as well as images in popular culture. The second is the monographic approach, which will focus on the lives and works of artists. It will explore the careers in painting and the graphic arts of Pablo Amorsolo and Pedro Coniconde, whose works are well represented in the Vargas Collection. The series will be rounded out by the diachronic approach, focusing on the milieu of the Philippine Commonwealth government from 1934 to 1941. This series aims to bridge the gap between curatorship and art history. It is also part of the museum’s continuing efforts to reactivate the collection and place it within a broader social context.
Following the launch of the Art history series is the opening of the Visible Storage in June 2012. The Vargas Art Collection consists of over 500 works of art, and a fraction of it can be viewed as permanent exhibition at the second floor Main Gallery of the museum. To echo important periods and themes covered by the permanent exhibition, the visible storage provides opportunities for qualified researchers and specialists to undertake an in-depth study of the collection.
Another program Track Changes is a para-site exhibition program at the Main Gallery that aims to link the art collection and the archives. This places the art collection and the archives in relation to a larger matrix of relationships. The initial exhibition is titled The Native Strain: Guillermo Tolentino and Aurelio Alvero. This exhibition probes the nativist disposition of the sculptor Tolentino and the curator-poet Alvero who went by the nom de plume Magtanggul Asa and helped Vargas form his collection. It is scheduled to open in June 2012.
In addition to the exhibition programs, the museum also endeavors to develop its education mandate through the publication of the The Vargas Collection Study Guide. The guide addresses school students in grade school, high school, and college levels. It links discussion topics and activities on The Vargas Collection exhibit to the national curriculum prescribed by the Department of Education. Last year, a discussion among art educators and specialists was held at the Vargas Museum to assess the potential of the program. Participants of this forum included representatives from Museo Pambata, Philippine Art Educators Association (PAEA), UP Integrated School, Ateneo de Manila High School, Balara Elementary School, to name a few. The study guide will be launched in September 2012.
Throughout the year, the Vargas Museum will be hosting exhibitions on contemporary art at the ground floor and third floor galleries and the basement. Study guides for temporary exhibitions will be accessible online through the official website of the Vargas Museum.