Gardens and homesteads

To celebrate its 37th year, the UP Vargas Museum launches Gardens and homesteads—the museum’s recent public project that revisits and reflects on our museum holdings and Jorge Vargas’s social life and political career.

Gardens and homesteads charts the journey of the Vargas Museum collection from Jorge B. Vargas’s family compound in suburban Mandaluyong to its relocation to a museum inside the University of the Philippines Diliman campus. The project reframes the transfer of objects in a collection through the lenses of property and land. It will serve to reflect on ideas of private ownership and public access. The locus of the reflection will be land: these sites include the Vargas family’s homestead, Jorge Vargas’s directorship at the Bureau of Lands from 1922 to 1928, his appointment as undersecretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources from 1928 to 1935, his many agricultural projects and initiatives, the plot of land where the museum now stands, and the garden project that the museum staff started to cultivate during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gardens and homesteads consider notions of habitation enacted through the movement of objects and material culture and how the transfer of seemingly inanimate things is ferried through human exchange and relations. It also places in perspective the continuing relevance of the museum as an institution not only for learning but also for community building, whereby its audiences and viewers are positioned as active agents in the public sphere.

The project will activate our current public programs through our museum archives, our exhibition histories, and our existing garden. It also aims to strengthen the UP Vargas Museum’s public programs through community initiatives, activate its archive and library collection, reflect on its exhibition histories through education modules, and contribute to approaches to more sustainable and equitable food production and distribution in an urban context. The project is part of the initiative of the UP Diliman Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts (UPD-OICA) and the UP Diliman Arts and Culture Festival (DACF) 2024 with the theme “Pamamalagi at Pamamahagi.”

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