If walls could speak, the story of the growth of Catholic faith in Cebu would be told in the Archdiocesan Museum of Cebu. The museum was opened in 2006 to serve as an instrument for Christian evangelization through its exhibits and events. Built in the mid-1800s, the structure is a fine example of an arquitectura mestiza made of coral stone blocks, timber and clay roof tiles. This is the only ecclesiastical museum in the country that is completely housed in a Spanish-era rectory restored for use as a museum. It was formerly used as a convent for priests of the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral until the 1980s.
Every year, hundreds of visitors, including foreign tourists, come to view its collection of artifacts to learn about the religious heritage of Cebu. Students and history buffs can also join guided tours or attend lectures on special topics.
The museum houses seven galleries, an archive room, a museum shop and a lecture/audio-visual room. The exhibits include a collection of “santos” and sacred images from different parishes of Cebu, liturgical vestments, sacred vessels, ecclesiastical records, cantorals, retablos, to name a few, no longer in regular use.
The place is also a venue for book launches and art exhibits. Stage plays, musical performances and cultural and religious events are hosted in a garden courtyard. Upstairs one can find most of the exhibits, including a sample of a priest’s room and memorabilia of the well-loved Archbishop Emeritus of Cebu Ricardo Cardinal Vidal. The museum was his brainchild.
A striking impression is made upon entering the Msgr. Virgilio Yap Memorial Chapel on the first floor. Its main feature is a silver–plated tabernacle with front panels and antique altar pieces from Carmen town in north Cebu. In the same room, pilgrims are able to venerate first-class Relics of Saints that form part of the wide collection of the late Julio Cardinal Rosales, the first cardinal of Cebu.
The museum is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM. The museum offers a rich experience for students, families, and other Catholic faithful who want to know more about the mission and life of the church from the Spanish era till today. The museum is owned by the Archdiocese of Cebu and managed by the Cebu Archdiocesan Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church.
It was inaugurated on Nov. 26, 2006 as the “Cathedral Museum of Cebu”. In 2015 it was renamed the “Archdiocesan Museum of Cebu” and organized as a non-stock, non-profit foundation registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.