Established in 1976, it is the first Philippine art institution to offer a bilingual and pedagogical program. It is partially subsidized by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP or the Central Bank of the Philippines).In 1979 the 'Met' was incorporated into a foundation known as the Metropolitan Museum of Manila Foundation, Inc. officially changing the status of the Museum to an independent, private, nonsectarian, non-political and non-profit cultural foundation.
Its principal program involves the exposure of its audience to quality art exhibitions and the liberal exchange of ideas, issues and creative processes associated with the collections of the Met, the BSP and its patrons. Another first is the museum's disability-sensitive program established in 2010 providing tactile and sensorial content. It believes in the use of art as a tool in the teaching of excellence, cultural values, and social responsibility.
The Museum is responsible for the conservation of some of the country's national treasures. The basement gallery showcases pre-Hispanic gold and pottery artifacts--proof of a flourishing pre-colonial Filipino society actively engaged in international trade and showcasing hallmarks of Filipino art and culture from the 8th to 13th centuries.
Also featuredis the era of Spanish colonization that produced religious images and objects by the country's most illustrious artists, some who garnered international recognition at the turn of the 20th century in Europe such as painters Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo and Juan Luna.
An expansive main gallery showcases international art and thematically curated temporary exhibitions. The second floor galleries will soon exhibit a permanent collection of paintings, sculptures and prints representing turn of the 21st century and the best in contemporary Philippine art.
In recognition of the value of scholarship, the Met maintains a strong relationship with the academic community. It has outreach programs in non-traditional venues, both in urban and rural areas. In a pioneering effort to engage private support for public concerns, it continues to acquire the encouraging assistance of institutions both local and foreign.