Kiddie museum makes int’l debut

The Philippines' first children's museum, Museo Pambata, receives its first international award months before its 18th birthday

AWARDING RITES. Marie Luarca Reyes, wife of the Philippine ambassador to Italy, receives the commendation for Museo Pambata. Photo from Museo Pambata

MANILA, Philippines – It is a debut of sorts for Museo Pambata, the Philippines’ first children’s museum which will mark its 18th birthday this year.

Months before its founding anniversary in December, Museo Pambata received its first international recognition from an award-giving body based in Europe, the museum announced Tuesday, March 27.

The only non-European shortlisted candidate, Museo Pambata received a special commendation from the first Children’s Museum Award last March 21.

Established by the European Museum Academy and Hands On! International, the Children’s Museum Award trophy went to Tropenmuseum Junior, Amsterdam.

“(Museo) Pambata has inspired the creation of other children’s museums in the Philippines and in Asia, and with its warm, compassionate, and professional staff, it welcomes children, families, and school groups from every sector of society,” said the organizers of the Children’s Museum Award.

Museo Pambata president and chief executive officer Nina Lim-Yuson called the recognition “a dream come true.”

“I didn’t expect that Museo will get this special citation knowing that the jury was composed of museum professionals and 2 (distinguished) European organizations, (with) Museo Pambata being the only non-European children’s museum,” said Yuson, who is now in Ankara, Turkey, in an e-mail interview with Rappler.

HANDS-ON DISPLAYS. Kids enjoy Museo Pambata's interactive exhibits. Photo from Museo Pambata

For kids to dream

Yuson patterned the museum, which features hands-on exhibits and interactive displays, after the Boston Children’s Museum in the United States. It now receives an average of 200,000 children and adult visitors every year.

An early childhood educator, Yuson described Museo Pambata as a venue “where kids have options to dream and be.”

Expressing hope the museum would foster critical thinking, she said some exhibits pose questions like: 

  • “Are you a hero?”

  • “What good thing have you done today?”

  • “Gusto ko maging…” (I want to be…)

ADVOCACY WORK. Museum staff conduct outreach activities in areas like Paco Market. Photo from Museo Pambata

The museum also invites resource speakers, from the police to doctors, dog trainers to singers. “We present the adult world to them, but with persons who love what they do and are contributing to our society and world,” Yuson said. –