“We want a soft opening, meaning only the second floor, Cordillera floor. We will finish the Cordillera floor for the public,” said Stella de Guia, executive director of the Baguio museum.
The PHP6.5-million (around USD130,000) rehabilitation grant from the 2017 US Ambassador’s fund for cultural preservation started in September 2017, with the full completion set on March 2020.
The project works include the restoration of the artifacts, physical development, and improvement of the building and the facility, including a capacity-building training of the museum personnel and others handling other museums in the locality.
De Guia said several works, excluded in the project proposal, were also done.
Among them was the repair of roofing damaged by Typhoon “Ompong” (Mangkhut) in 2018.
She said the Cordillera area of the museum features the different artifacts from the six provinces of Abra, Apayao, Benguet (including Baguio), Ifugao, Kalinga and Mountain Province. There are also dioramas of the important events that shaped the Cordillera including its culture and traditions that have been passed down to generations.
She said that in the process of fixing the artifacts, “culture bearers” or experts in the field were invited to help ensure the accuracy of the description of the whole collection.
“We are helped by our culture bearers to ensure that we are doing the right thing. We ask for the presence of culture bearers to correct whatever is displayed for them to correct because they said in the past that the displayed artifacts were interchanged so we wanted their approval in the arrangement to make sure that what we are showing is correct,” de Guia said.
She said part of the improvement of the structure is the setting of a storage area as all artifacts cannot be accommodated on the display cases.
Once the rehabilitation is finished, they will interchange exhibits for the public to also see the other collections.
“The intention is every year we change the exhibit inside the shelves,” she said.
De Guia said the Baguio Museum is one of the 30 museums worldwide that was given support by the US government as part of its mission of “public diplomacy through educational and cultural programming and exchange”.
The 30-month rehabilitation program of the Baguio Museum starts from the restoration, stabilization, and preventive conservation.
Under the conservation work is the re-inventory of the artifacts and finalizing its provenance or the place of origin and story.
“The objects are being cleaned, restored and conserved,” she said, adding that every three years, the Museum has its inventory of more than a thousand artifacts.
The four floors of the Baguio Museum house the multi-purpose hall area and training floor, the Cordillera Gallery, the Baguio Gallery, and the Alternative Gallery/Library.
The works to be done are shelf enhancement, repainting, floor enhancement, storage repair, and floor leveling with scale models.
The US government’s grant came after the Baguio Museum won in the International contest of museums.
“Preservation of the museum is cultural heritage preservation. It is central to protecting our sense of who we are. It gives us an irrefutable connection to the past-- to certain social values, beliefs, customs and traditions that allow us to identify ourselves with others and deepen our sense of unity, belongingness and national pride,” de Guia said. (with reports from Argielynne Gem Ramos, OJT/ PNA)