The museum houses the historical and cultural treasures of Iloilo. It is located near the provincial capitol complex along Bonifacio Drive in downtown Iloilo. It is said to be the repository of Panay’s significant religious and cultural artifacts as well as an exhibit hall for up and coming local artists.
The museum building is in itself an interesting structure. Built in 1971, it was designed by Sergio Penasales, an Ilonggo architect. On one side of the building, bas reliefs of various churches in Iloilo were placed, among others, the Molo Church and the UNESCO World Heritage listed baroque church of Miag-ao. A couple of old canons were also placed just outside of the building.
Rich in colonial history and a deeply-rooted religious past, Iloilo is one of those provinces that takes pride of its identity molded by memories of its ancient people, of centuries of Spanish rule, the prosperity it enjoyed through barter and trade with the Chinese and the Latin Americans and the loyalty it gave to the Spain at the turn of the 20th century.
The province was founded in 1566, making it one of the oldest province in the country. The origins of the people were said to be from Sumatra, in the state of Pannai.
Iloilo is located in the island of Panay, bounded by the province of Capiz in the north and the province of Antique in the west. South of Iloilo is the island province of Guimaras.
The province was once called ‘La Muy Leal y Noble Ciudad’ and ‘The Queen’s City of the South.’ It was an economically powerful state in the 1600s. Industries such as textile and sugar flourished for centuries. These had attracted huge number of Chinese immigrants. It was also an important naval base for the Spaniards. Latin Americans from Mexico were assigned to take hold of the military facilities in the province. By such, Iloilo’s progress pushed it to become the most important province second only to Manila.