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Cebu Provincial Museum (Museo Sugbo)

Wander the rooms of a former prison to discover art and artifacts that retrace the history of Cebu province since pre-colonial times. 

Cebu Provincial Museum (Museo Sugbo) is a one-stop venue for understanding the importance of Cebu to the Philippines’ fascinating past. Delve into the influence of the Americans, Chinese, Japanese and Spanish to Filipino culture. Find exhibitions of everything from antique banknotes and ceramics to guerrilla weapons, medical equipment and vintage bicycles. 

The museum opened in 2008 in a building that had housed the Cebu Provincial Jail (Cárcel de Cebú) since 1870. The striking fortress-like structure was designed by the Spanish architect Domingo de Escondrillas, Its exterior walls feature coral stones thought to have been taken from the former Parian Church. The jail achieved worldwide fame for the Cebu Dancing Inmates. 

The exhibitions run in chronological order, beginning with an introduction to Cebu’s pre-colonial period. See bones, silverware and tools that date back to the Stone Age. Learn about centuries-old trade and bartering negotiations with the Arabs, Chinese and Thais. See how life changed in the Philippines following the arrival of the Spanish in 1521.

Go to the gallery dedicated to the American era, whose prized exhibit is a series of letters written by Thomas Sharpe. He was among over 1,000 teachers sent by President William McKinley to supposedly educate local people. Pause for thought in the war gallery, which charts the tumultuous Japanese occupation during World War II. 

Special exhibitions celebrate some of Cebu’s most famous sons, including the one-time senator and public servant Vicente Rama. Glimpse into the life of the Katipunan revolutionary Gregorio Abellana and his son Jovito Abellana, who was an artist, author and councilor. There’s also an interesting display that showcases the evolution of Cebuano journalism via old cameras, newspapers and printing machines.  

Find the museum situated in the Tejero district of Cebu City. It’s about a 20-minute walk from Plaza Independencia. Otherwise take a taxi or jeepney bus. The Museum of Philippine Political History is located in an adjoining building. 

Cebu Provincial Museum is open from Monday to Saturday and there’s an admission fee.


Guide to Exploring Cebu Provincial Museum


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