The Arts Division
The overwhelming interest of the Arts Division in the promotion of Philippine art is highly exemplified in its tireless conduct of retrospective exhibitions of works by distinguished local and international artists. These include: the Egyptian Treasures, Chinese Arts and Treasures, Icons, Canadian Art through Photography, and Retrospective Exhibitions of National Artists Fernando C. Amorsolo, Guillermo E. Tolentino, Napoleon V Abueva, Cesar Legaspi, and Vicente Manansala. Moreover, the exhibitions of Algerian Paintings and Calligraphy, Contemporary German Posters for the Theater, l9th Century Filipino Masters, Special Exhibit for the Handicapped, and a hundred other oneman and group shows by contemporary painters have earned laurels for the Arts Division.
One of the greatest attractions of the National Museum is Juari Luna's "Spoliarium". This masterpiece describes a gloomy and large room the Roman called Spolarium located at the basement of the Roman Amphitheater. There the dying and the corpses of gladiators and wild beasts were dragged to be despoiled of armour with weapons piled in a heap of bloody carnage.
An all-important and significant tuming point in the history of the Arts Division was the acquisition of outstanding representative works of the 18th and l9th century Filipino Masters, including 162 Juan Luna paintings donated by Far East Bank and Trust Company; the 132 Zosimo Dimaano paintings of landscapes, seascapes and portraits of national heroes; the P 1.1 million portrait of Andalucian Lady by Rafael Enriquez; the monumental Jose Joya triptych entitled "The Origins", and Ramon Orlina's huge green glass sculpture.
In line with the government's mission of preserving and monitoring valuable art treasures, Presidential Decree-No: 374 was signed by then President Ferdinand E. Marcos, making it mandatory for all art collectors to register their entire art collection with the National Museum. To address this mandate, the National Museum created a Panel of Art Experts composed of highly competent and recognized authorities in the field of art, to study, analyze, and authenticate art pieces, which will eventually be declared as national art treasures and important cultural properties.