Pushing Art and Culture outside Square Museum Walls
MANILA, Philippines -- A date place. A hub of activity. A venue for people of all ages and demographics. These are the things Ayala Museum director Guillermo Luz envisions for the museum ever since he took the helm of the institution last year. He wanted to make the museum livelier. He wanted to bring art out there. He wanted new audiences to come in to soak themselves in various art forms, and get them to renew their interest in our country's rich history and heritage. And it looks like Luz has been calling all the right shots (including spamming this writer to death of e-mails about the museum's upcoming programs and exhibitions, but this writer isn't complaining, though) to achieve the challenges he has set for himself and the museum staff.
"My concept for the museum is to not just be a place for exhibiting art. When I came in to the Ayala Museum and had my very first meeting with the staff, we sat down and talked about the things we have done. But more importantly, I posed these questions: 'What's our identity?' 'What's our purpose in life as a museum?' We need to be an institution that captures art history and culture as museums are supposed to," Luz shares.
Captured art history and culture the museum did and in a very fresh and dynamic fashion. Last year, the museum partnered with organizations such as the Purita-Kalaw Ledesma Foundation, the Filipino Heritage Festival, and Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation in showcasing collections of historical and cultural significance. More exhibitions of painting, sculpture, and installation art were also staged last year, and along with them are intimate lecture series dubbed 'Conversations in Art' made to "peer into the depth and significance of featured artist, and the publication of exhibition catalogues."
More than these, however, Luz has also introduced "several layers" into the museum's creative outreach through a number of lecture series called 'DesignTalks' featuring professionals from various design fields and 'History Comes Alive!' featuring noted historian Ambeth Ocampo.
"Lectures can be exciting, but with that said, we had to pick the lecturers very carefully. All of who has been put to sleep in school through lectures? I didn't want that. I said, 'Let's go and have fun and exciting lectures that will be, if we talk about Philippine history, animated and imaginative. We should have lectures that can make us travel back in time so that we can really feel the history and get a different appreciation of it," Luz says.
Thinking that design is seemingly an ignored field in the country, Luz decided to tap world-class designers for the first series of the museum's DesignTalks. They had furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue, jeweler Anne Pamintuan, light designer Florian Theuer, furniture designers Budji Layug and Royal Pineda, architect Ed Calma, fashion designer Rajo Laurel, artist Rachy Cuna, and milliner Mich Dulce as guest lecturers last year.
Luz tells, "We tried to make each lecture different and fun. …