ArtThe Vargas art collection consists of oil paintings, watercolors, pastels, drawings, and sculptures from the 1880s to the 1960s.As stated in the 1943 catalogue of the collection, the art collection began with Mr Vargas’s acquisition of Village Woman with a Bundle of Hay, an undated oil on canvas work by Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo. In collecting the pieces, Mr Vargas was guided by collectors such as Felipe Hidalgo and Alfonso Ongpin; and Aurelio Alvero, who urged Mr Vargas to acquire works from emerging Filipino artists.
The collection covers an extensive period of Philippine art history, ranging from the Spanish period to Philippine modernism which began in the thirties. It includes works from different styles and traditions, from the Academic style of the nineteenth century to the various modernisms of the first half of the twentieth century. The collection also has editorial drawings, cartoons, and caricatures.
The collection was known to have the most number of works by Fernando Amorsolo, the country’s first National Artist and friend of Mr Vargas. The building’s main balusters are by the National Artist Napoleon Abueva. National Artist Abdulmari Imao’s untitled sculpture can be found at the driveway.
Library and Archives
Located on the third floor of the Museum, the Vargas library and archives hold a vast body of books, documents and memorabilia pertaining to Jorge B. Vargas and his historical context, including the American colonial period, the Commonwealth era, and the Japanese Occupation.
The library houses 3,193 book titles and 1,542 volumes of periodicals classified into Vargasiana (published materials on and by Jorge B. Vargas), Quezoniana (works on President Manuel L. Quezon), Rizaliana, Sports, Law books and various Serials. Manuscripts and rare books numbering among them, these titles fall under the areas of Philippine ethnography, history, linguistics, art, philately, and numismatics.
The Museum’s archival collection consists of 88 boxes of around 300 feet of loose documents (receipts, correspondence and biographical files), 332 volumes of scrapbooks (newspaper clippings, photographs and greeting cards) and items such as trophies, lighters and hotel keys. Boy Scouts pins, badges, and souvenirs, photographs in action, periodicals, sports magazines are also found in the Vargas library and archives. All this reveals Mr Vargas’s broad sympathies. Keeping a close record of his personal interests as well as his political career during the Commonwealth and World War II, the archives are a window into the Philippines and Asia of Vargas’s time, instructive to any student of Philippine history, culture, and diplomacy.
Click here to visit the Vargas Library and Archives website.
Stamps and Coins
The museum keeps the vast philatelic collection of Mr Vargas, who once held the acting director position in the country’s Bureau of Posts in 1920. The thousands-strong collection contains postage stamps from the late nineteenth century, first-day covers, and unique stamps that mark milestones in the nation’s history.
The Vargas numismatic collection traces the history of mintage and currency use of the country. Included in the collection are coins from the period of Spanish colonization, banknotes used during the Pacific War, and commemorative coins and banknotes, among others.