Situated in a 20,000 square meter piece of Batangas land, Tumba-Tumba is a creative space for Philippine art, established by the Center for Art, New Ventures & Sustainable Development (CANVAS). It is comprised of the Children’s Museum of Philippine Art and CANVAS’ Artist in Residence (AiR) facilities. Tumba-Tumba is designed to inspire and to trigger imagination. Both for visitors of the Museum and its surrounding gardens, and for resident artists, it evokes the sense that there is no beginning, and no end - only exploration and wonder.
The Museum is anchored by CANVAS’ permanent art collection. Exhibitions are carefully curated to be memorable and interactive, engaging children of all ages to see art as vehicles for storytelling, understanding history, exploring contemporary social issues as well as helping more mature visitors to reconnect with their younger, more carefree selves.
Natural light pervades most of the Museum, even as carefully placed and thought-out lighting enhances the experience of viewing the Museum’s collection of child-friendly art.
Three main halls comprise the permanent sections and exhibitions of the Museum.
In the main Art and Stories Hall, at least fifty major paintings and sculptures from past CANVAS events and exhibitions are on display at any given time. These are “story pieces”, or artworks that detail a scene or hint at a narrative. There are countless stories to be revealed by each painting, and visitors are encouraged to view the pieces in that context. What story is the artwork yearning to convey? What story emerges – from and for you, the viewer – as you consider the artwork?
The Looking for Juan section of the Museum presents CANVAS’ socially provocative collection. In this exhibit, art is shown to have the high purpose of provoking reflection, debate, discussion and learning on contemporary social issues such as human rights, sustainable development and national identity.
CANVAS’ large scale murals on human rights and social development are displayed in their full glory in this spacious hall. Of particular note and importance is the special Memory Room that practically forces visitors to contemplate, and remember the Philippines’ experience with and triumph over Martial Law.
Finally, Abubot is the third major room of the Museum. Here, hundreds of simple, often discarded everyday things and found objects, have been transformed into works of art, revealing, to children especially, the truth that anything can be turned into beautiful art, and that art and beauty can be found in anything.
Beyond these main halls and in the Museum gardens, functional architectural installations can be found in designated areas throughout the garden. These serve as creative spaces for special, temporary, and shifting exhibitions. Selected artists are invited to transform each space into a cohesive, interactive, creative and childcentric artwork that will be on display for six months. Invited artists are also awarded grants to research, conceptualize and execute their displays.
The Museum Shop, Reading and Drawing Room, and Café are unique experiences themselves.
As is to be expected, there is something for everyone in the Shop, and whoever oversees the inventory of the Museum Shop deserves a long round of applause for the breadth, quality, uniqueness and affordability of its merchandise.
But, it is the stash of signature items that can be found only at Tumba-Tumba that sets it apart. Visitors will find that they can be inspired to start their own collections as the mandatory purchase in the Shop of a souvenir can easily turn into a treasure hunt for “abubots”: oneof-a-kind works of art, courtesy of the many Filipino artists who consistently and passionately support CANVAS’ vision and mission.
Visitors, especially the children, can also spend time in Tumba-Tumba’s Reading Room. Here, visitors can thumb through CANVAS’ impressive collection of books, from some of the most engaging children’s books from all over the world, to books that inspire creativity and leadership.
There is a Drawing Corner, too, where you can test your hand in drawing by sketching some artworks from CANVAS’ collection that are on display for the purpose. You can then choose to showcase your sketch on a well-lit display panel, or take it home, as your very own remembrance.
The Café reflects not only the environment and cuisine of Philippine, particularly Batangueño sensibilities, but also CANVAS’ own playful and creative roots. Menu items were crafted by some of the Philippines’ best chefs, but the blend is cohesive and complementary.
An expansive Garden, green with trimmed wild grass, and filled with flowering leafy plants and native fruit trees, surrounds the facilities. Walking paths meander aimlessly around the 2-hectare grounds. Water fountains and commissioned sculptures reveal themselves as one walks through the rolling surface, or around corners. It is easy to imagine the artists and visitors spending hours exploring the garden, or simply finding and sitting in quiet nooks that encourage immersive contemplation and reflection.
A shady amphitheater has also been constructed, where children are free to run and explore, while others can sit and read or watch. The place is the site of TEDx events, which CANVAS is famously known to support, and also serves as the venue for occasional outdoor plays and other performances.
CANVAS’ prestigious Artist in Residence Program is also conducted within the Museum grounds. Through the AiR Program, visual art and writing talents are provided with free board and lodging, and pampered for six to eight weeks, enabling them to paint, sculpt, write, and pursue their craft free from distraction and worries.
Residents are assigned to individual studios, and are assured the privacy and solitude necessary to focus on their work. They are only required to have dinner together, which is the time to engage with and learn from one another, and expand their creative horizons.
The Studios themselves are unique architectural triumphs. Simple, elegant and functional, the Studios complement the Tumba-Tumba grounds, while providing the artists with a calm sanctuary within which they can do their work.
Tumba-Tumba Artist Residencies are offered on a rolling basis throughout the year.