Museum of Arts and Cultures

The SLU museum is an ethnographic museum.  Its collections are generally cultural artifacts which come mainly from the Cordillera Region, i.e. from Benguet, Ifugao, Mountain Province, Kalinga, Apayao, and Abra.  A few collections come from the Lowlands. A section of the museum contains Spanish religious relics. Classified as a University community museum that caters to the needs of the students in the university and visitors (local and foreign), the museum is one of the recognized museums in the Cordillera and in Northern Luzon.

The museum adopted the theme, “Unity in Cultural Diversity” as a fitting theme to represent the diversity of cultures in the region and  the hope of contributing to subsequent development of  the attitude of cultural sensitivity and tolerance among the students in particular and other visitors in general.  Guided by the belief that a bridging between cultures becomes possible and meaningful only when the culture and traditions of a people are objectively appreciated and understood by others, the museum is true to its commitment of serving the student community,  researchers, tourists, excursionists, and other university visitors.

Nature of Collections

Most of the collections in the museums were donated by students of the university, benefactors, parents, and other individuals who believe in the objectives and commitment of the museum and the university in the preservation and promotion of the cultures and arts of the people.

The range of collections include the following: Igorot house structures, dress and adornments, loom weaving tools/implements, kitchen ware and implements, farming tools/implements, food collecting tools/implements, rice processing tools/implements, fishing implements, carpentry tools, wood carving tools, weapons/fighting paraphernalia, sugar cane presser, gold processing paraphernalia, food storage/containers, transport baskets/containers, musical instruments, wood carved statues and art works, rain protectors, Chinese porcelain/ceramics, potteries, traditional ornaments, burial artifacts and photo documentation, traditional religious paraphernalia, lowland religious paraphernalia and Spanish religious relics, ethnographic reports, pictorials of  selected museum collections, and a mini-diorama of Ifugao rituals, festivals, and household activities/occupations, among others.

Services Provided

The museum usually provides visitors basic orientation, lectures and / or  demonstrations on the Cordillera culture to students, researchers, tourists, excursionists, and other university visitors.  It also provides outreach services such as technical assistance in the development and setting up of other museums in the region.

Museum Location and Schedule

The museum is presently housed at the Second Floor, Msgr.  Charles Vath Library Building,  SLU Libraries, Saint Louis University,  Baguio City.  It is opened daily to the public from Monday to Saturday, 7:30  to 11:30 a.m.  and  1:00 to 5:00 p.m.  Group/Class visits need prior arrangement.  Admission is free.

History of the Museum of Arts and Cultures

The SLU Museum of Arts and Cultures was conceptualized in 1969 when anthropology was added to the curriculum in the college of Human Sciences. With anthropology, a museum was inevitable. In 1970, Dr. Florentino H. Hornedo, then the dean of the College of Human Sciences through the newly organized university-wide Department of Social Sciences initiated the initial and voluntary collection of artifacts from the basic social sciences classes in the college and then joined in by those of other colleges. The response exceeded expectations. Interest in the collection of artifacts gained momentum.

Donated items were temporarily deposited in a corner in the outer office of the dean of the College of Human Sciences at the Diego Silang Building. The following year the student council joined the campaign. The BIBAK, a federation of students from the Cordillera cultural communities, after realizing the wisdom of preserving their cultural heritage especially the artifacts that are fast disappearing, donated a big bulk of cultural artifacts.

Not only ethnographic materials but also historical documents and folk arts items were collected. Students in the social sciences were encouraged to do research papers, ethnographic reports, term papers and even theses on folk arts, folkways, beliefs and lifestyles of different cultural communities. The output of this research endeavors were also added to the museum collection.

The museum, then dubbed as College of Human Sciences Museum, has moved from one place to another. From the corridor of the Office of the Dean of the College of Human Sciences, it was transferred to the Burgos Center Conference Hall where it became a major attraction during the 1971 International Philippine Association of Travel Agencies Conference. In 1972, the museum was again pushed out from the Conference room to the corridors of the Burgos Center where it stayed temporarily, then to the Mount Mary Hall where it stayed for a while before it was returned to the Burgos Center. With the completion of the Msgr. Charles Vath Library building in 1973, the museum found its home where it remained for the past 26 years. It occupied one-half of a wing at the third floor of the Msgr. Charles Vath Library Building. Since then, it was renamed Museum of Arts and Cultures and the museum collections were organized and formally displayed for viewing to the public and to the university community. In June 1999 the museum was again transferred to the third floor of the newly constructed Msgr. William Brasseur Building along Gen. Luna Road where it was accessible for public viewing pending the preparation and renovation of the more spacious and strategic Second floor of the Msgr. Charles Vath Library Building that will soon be its final location.

Through the years the museum attracted donations of artifacts from various personalities like Dr. Alejandro Roces, Chairman, SLU Board of Trustees, late former governor Alfredo Lam-en of Mt. Province, Msgr. Odelo Etspueler of the Diocese of Abra, and Mayor Molina of Tayum Abra, among others. The museum continue to interest and amuse students and others visitors within or outside of the region. Some Cordillera families who share the common concern for the collection and preservation of the cultures made pledges and donations of artifacts to the museum. The Gaidan (Gold Ore stone Crusher) and other gold processing paraphernalia and the Okisan de Kape (Coffee Peeler) were donated by the Waldo family from Dalicno, Itogon, Benguet. The Tillar (Ilocos loom weaving) and the Dadapilan (Sugar Cane Presser) from the Espiritu and Villanueva families, respectively, from Tagudin, Ilocos Sur. Another Tillar was donated by the family of Mrs. Maria Mercedes Liclican-Supsup from La Union. The Photo documents of burial practices of Bakun, Benguet, was given by the Tolito family while a set of pictorials of Cordillera ethnic dances was donated by Dr. Dennis Wandit from the Benguet State University. The Wostyn Family through Fr. Lode Wostyn, CICM, donated to the museum a number of Lowland Religious Relics that are now exhibited in a back room corner of the museum. Other donated items include, among others, a solar painting made by Jordan Mang-usan that was donated by Fr, Joseph Van Daelen, a Benjamin Mendoza painting of a nose flute player by Fr. Ghisleen de Vos, a sangadil painting-on- wood by Atty. Cheryl Daytec-Yangot, wood-carved image of the first Ifugao terrace builder by Lourdes Bahatan, wooden art collections by Fr. Lode Wostyn, CICM, a pukok (wooden food box) from Greg Sabado, and another pukok or food/storage containers and stools/benches from the SLU Chapel.

In 1990, the SLU Museum of Arts and Cultures and the CICM Archive was assigned to Mr. Isikias T. Picpican, to maintain the continuous operations of the museum and the separately organized SLU-CICM Archives.

In 1997, the curator organized the living tradition component of the museum. Challenged by the fast disappearance of the bearers of tradition, the elders, the religious practitioners like the mumbaki, mambunongs, or mandadawaks, etc., the curator embarked on the collection of intangible heritage materials like folktales, folksongs, chants, beliefs, rituals, music, and dances, among others. Volunteer Cordillera students in the University were organized for this living tradition component. The SLU Cordillera Cultural Performing Group (SLU-CCPG), a university-wide organization was organized for the preservation, promotion and development of this living tradition component. Ethnic songs and dances, arts and crafts, were researched, rehearsed and re-lived through cultural presentations and live performances.

Today, the SLU Museum of Arts and Cultures, now housed at the 2nd Floor, Msgr. Charles Vath Library Building, is known all over and is listed in the Lonely Planet Travel Guide used by tourists as a must place to see in Baguio among local and foreign tourist alike.

Now on its 40th anniversary, the museum, guided by the vision-mission of the University and the Museum of Arts and Cultures, is gaining acclaimed as an excellent center for the preservation and promotion of the indigenous people’s culture and traditions through systematic collection and conservation, documentation and research, and exhibition and promotion that will develop cultural sensitivity and appreciation of the indigenous traditions among its patrons, encourage interest in cultural and anthropological studies, and provide facilities and services.

Contact Information

Dr. Gaston P. Kibiten
SLU Museum of Arts and Cultures

  • 2/F Msgr. Charves Vath Building
    Saint Louis University
    A. Bonifacio Street
    2600 Baguio City Philippines
  • Tel. No. : (074)442-2793 local 260
  • Email:  gpkibiten@andrewgducas