Preserving Local Heritage Through a Museum: Practices and Programs of Selected Community Museums in the Philippines

Department of Art Studies, University of the Philippines Diliman, Philippines

A community museum is defined as a specialized museum that exhibits and gathers for specific identity groups and/or geographic areas. Most of them are found inside an old house, an institution, or in any small Philippine society called a barangay. The emergence of community museums in the Philippines has a direct connection with social movements, noting that their heritage was largely absent from the national context. The lack of social representation from these places urged them to open small and locally focused museums. Community museums are known for their hybrid of traditional museum methods with techniques commonly associated with community organizations and arts projects. The role of local museums is now acknowledged by mainstream museums as an avenue by which locals can be reached, and partnerships and programs developed. Today, these museums are developing as dynamic and inclusive spaces for preserving diverse and multi-layered cultural heritage, and exhibiting popular histories. These museums, owned by the locals, are freely reachable to all and play a major role in safeguarding and promoting their vanishing heritage, making them relevant in today's changing world. This paper will present three community museums in the Philippines – their practices, programs, and direction of their curatorial work.