Hello, Museo Pambata!

IMG_1261 One of Akira’s favorite stories is The Berenstain Bears and the Missing Dinosaur Bone. This story enjoyed a good rotation in our household, where she requested to have this story read for several days.

It was no surprise that on one Saturday, when we told her we were going to a museum, she got very excited and looked forward to looking for the ‘missing dinosaur bone’.

Unfortunately, we don’t have museums like in that story in the Ph – but our little star had a great time all the same. This was the first visit – for all of us – to Museo Pambata in Manila.

Lunch first!

We started the day off with a hearty meal at a classic Manila restaurant, Cafe Adriatico.

This place is a virtual museum in itself, withstanding the test of time for 37 years and counting. The food is still good as well, most importantly.

Welcome to Museo Pambata

The first thing you’d see inside is the huge hanging whale.

After paying the admission fee, it’s time to explore!

This is in the Old Manila exhibit room. The mini replica of Binondo Church is like a huge doll house, a kid can fit inside.

Next, we went up to the ‘I Love My Planet Earth’ exhibit area.

Her favorite part is where the old kitchen appliances are, and she played house.

The exhibit area she loved best of all however, has got to be the Marketplace or the Pamilihang Bayan. This is where kids can pretend play to their heart’s content in accurate and very Filipino settings. There’s a carinderia, a pharmacy AND a watch repair shop setting.

She sold bread, fruits and was a fireman. We stayed here a long time 🙂

We managed to squeeze in a Dr. Seuss story inside the library, before making our way down and out the building. She was looking forward to playing outside and going down the slide, but as you can see, she did a double take as it was too hot.

The Marketplace exhibit is a definite hit with children Akira’s age. In fact, establishments like Kidzania, and the various playgrounds and play areas in malls capitalize mainly on kids’ propensity for pretend play – they can spend hours putting on and changing costumes, make believe they are firemen or doctors and make, cook or sell stuff, while parents have their fill of photo opportunities.

This is a good opportunity for the museum management to take a look at what commercial places like Kidzania and Kidzoona are doing, and apply it to the museum. Some areas are simply in need of a renovation, like the ‘I Love My Planet Earth’ exhibit and the mini garden. Wouldn’t it be cool if kids can see all the vegetables from Bahay Kubo as plants?

As somebody who loves comics, it’s sad to see the Paglaki Ko (When I Grow Up) exhibit on writers and illustrators looking colorful and interesting, but kind of lacking in interactivity. Everything is just up on walls to read.

I also agree with my husband’s observation that some of the exhibits could really use a child’s perspective. There’s an exhibit that takes you inside the human body. It’s cool for older kids, but for toddlers like Aki, it made her freak out. She kept on saying “Aki don’t want to go inside the tongue”.

Museo Pambata could really use generous sponsorship, but also a competitive marketing plan. Competition is everywhere, and some of the popular children’s places nowadays are conveniently located in malls.

The Museum could also divide the exhibits according to age brackets. This way there will be exhibits that would appeal to smaller children, and exhibits that would be fun for the older children i.e. the field trip going kids. Everyone is bound to have a good time then.

It’s possible that some families and parents have a negative impression of museums (museum = boring) so it’s the last thing they think of when it comes to a family bonding destination, but once they give Museo Pambata a try like we did, I’m sure they will realize that Museo Pambata isn’t that kind of museum at all.

There are areas for improvement certainly, but it doesn’t mean to say that we didn’t enjoy our visit. We had a great time – this won’t be the last! Also looking at you next, The Mind Museum 😉



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