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The Met honors Jose Vargas

The Metropolitan Museum of Manila spotlights the intertwining role of Jose Vargas as a civic leader, an art collector, and a Filipiniana connoisseur as it opens two new exhibitions with his eponymous museum.

Curated by Patrick Flores, “Fascination with Filipiniana: The Vargas Museum Collection” and “In the Wake of War and the Modern: Manila, 1941 to 1961” feature the comprehensive collection of the Jorge B. Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center of the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

A vast majority of the Vargas family graced the event to honor their patriarch in support of his legacy. Jose Mari Ledesma Vargas, Nena Vargas Tantoco, and Marina Eduque-Castro three of Jorge Vargas’ over 60 grandchildren shared memories of their late grandfather during the opening reception.

The family was most appreciative of the two exhibitions for bringing recognition to the contribution of Vargas in nation-building and in enriching the consciousness on Philippine Art to a wider audience.

Fascination with Filipiniana: The Vargas Museum Collection and In the Wake of War and the Modern: Manila, 1941 to 1961 present a variety of paintings, books and archival documents, and memorabilia such as canes with intricate carvings and inlays, ashtrays gathered from various locations, and a number of ‘salakot’ fashioned into different styles.

Both exhibitions highlight the outstanding collection of Filipiniana paintings he accumulated through time, complemented with pieces from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Art Collection.

Also present as Guest of Honor was Former Senator Edgardo Angara, who talked about the acquisition during his speech. He was the President of the University of the Philippines in Diliman when the Vargas Museum was established and the Vargas Collection was donated to the university.

The two exhibitions explore the history of Philippine art collection in the context of institutions such as the Vargas Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Manila, University of the Philippines, and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

With a historical figure passionate in both the arts and politics, the relevance of Vargas’s place in Philippine art history expands beyond the birth of a museum to rebuilding a nation from the ravages of war.

The exhibitions are on view at the ground floor galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila until July 21. Stay tuned for a series of interesting public programs in line with these exhibitions.

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