These National Museum guide questions may aid visitors in their critical appreciation of works of Filipino artists. Most of these are prompts focusing on both the formal and aesthetic aspects of the works of the artists, as well as on their place in the annals of Philippine history.
Visitors may recycle and apply the questions below to any current displayed works on exhibit at the NM. As suggestions, these questions are in no particular order and are not organized following any critical mode or theory. Rather, these are general interest questions that can still expand or compress depending on the need of the user.
1. What is on exhibit when you visited the National Museum. Write your general impression of the exhibit.
2. What are your impressions regarding classical pieces (first floor) versus modern pieces (second floor)? What are your raw insights about modern art? Classical art?
3. How is abstract art expressionist art? What is an abstract art that caught your attention at the National Museum? Describe it.
4. Pick a favorite work from the temporary exhibit at the second floor. How does this exhibit represent this current time's concerns and issues? Share your insights on this exhibits features: style, thematic focus, medium, etc.
5. Cite two works of Filipino artists (one from the classical period, one from the modern or contemporary period) that held your attention. Share your observation about what impressed you about the works. What, aside from sheer information, have these art works given you that speaks to your time and place?
6. What can you glean from representations of Catholic icons and other religious artifacts in Philippine art during the 17th century?
7. Describe your favorite painting of Rizal / by Rizal. Cite reasons for your choice based on either your reading of Rizal's novels (Noli Me Tangere, El Filibusterismo) or your general knowledge about Rizal's mark in Philippine history.
8. Comment on the scale of Juan Luna's "Spoliarium" How long did you stare/look at this painting? What aspects or features of this masterpiece speak to you? How does this monumental work speak to your generation?
9. Manansala's technique is called "transparent cubism". Based on what you see, describe this art focusing on its material values as well as on the abstract concepts that come across through this technique.
10. What is a painting/sculpture of Botong Francisco displayed at the National Museum that impressed you the most? Describe the picture. How does Botong's style represent a certain Filipino trait or value?
11. What are the subjects of Fernando Amorsolo's art? Relate your personal experience of the Philippine landscape with your impression or perception of Amorsolo's depiction of the same.
12. What is a painting/sculpture of Cesar Legaspi displayed at the National Museum that impressed you the most? Describe the painting. How does Legaspi's style able to depict a social struggle or tension?
13. Who are the subjects of Guillermo Tolentino’s sculpture? Why is he considered one of the pillars of sculpture in the Philippines?
14. Felix Resurrection Hidalgo’s painting was almost the same scale as Juan Luna’s. The two were contemporaries and their works are displayed facing each other. What is the subject of Felix Resurrection Hidalgo’s painting? If there are similarities in "Spoliarium" and Hidalgo’s painting, what are those similarities?
15. Given the number of sculptures that you saw in the national museum, which types of sculptures impressed you the most and why?
16. Social realism was one of the movements in Philippine art history which continues to evolve in terms of style and technique, and has engaged many artists through the years. What are the theme focus of major social realist paintings displayed at the National Museum?
17. How were you affected by the paintings of Amorsolo documenting some grim and depressing experiences during the Japanese occupation? Share your insights about this stark realist art that depict years of torture, suffering, and death. What can you say about truth, goodness, and beauty in relation to such depictions?
18. Take note of the women artists represented in the National Museum? Describe one or two works taking note of their subjects and themes.
19. How are women depicted in early 17th century sculpture? In Amorsolo’s paintings? In Bencab’s works? In other artist's works? How many works by women artists are displayed on exhibit at the National Museum. Comment on this number.
20. As opposed to romantic art, realist art portrays reality in its most mimetic, that is, copying even the mood and atmosphere of the chosen picture, and capturing even context. Romantic art deviates from realism in the sense that it is more emotional and more endowed with the artist’s feelings about the subject, rather than his ideology or theory. Describe one sculpture in the National Museum which is realist and one sculpture which is romantic. How do these sculptures affect the way you look at / think about/ consider the subjects depicted?