History of the museum
The University of San Carlos Museum first opened in 1967 through the efforts of Fr. Rudolf Rahmann, SVD, a German anthropologist and former president of the University. From a modest collection of ethnographic and archaeological materials from various research and collecting expeditions, the museum has grown to include a Spanish colonial gallery and a natural science gallery. It is now, as it has been since the early 1970's, a general museum.
Its present collection, is a product of research endeavors and collecting expeditions of the faculty and students of the University that date back even earlier than the museum's establishment.
The first of these happened in 1953 when Dr. Marcelino Maceda collected ethnographic materials from the Buhid Mangyans of Mindoro. The following year, Dr. Maceda, this time accompanied by the Fr. Rahmann, went on various expeditions to collect the material culture of the Negritos of Antique and the Mamanuas of Surigao. The museum's ethnographic collection has since increased with more fieldwork activities carried out by other anthropologists.
Archaeological finds exhibited in the museum include unique finds like the limestone burial urns acquired as a result of studies conducted Dr. Maceda on the Kulamana Plateau in 1963 as well as excavations he made at Fort San Pedro in downtown Cebu in 1969. Dr. Rosa C.P. Tenazas added more artifacts to the collection from her work on imported protohistoric tradeware ceramics from Pila, Laguna in 1968 and important earthenware burial goods from Magsuhot, Bacong, in Negros Oriental in 1974.
The materials in the Spanish Colonial gallery were mostly collected by Fr. Pieter Jan Raats, SVD in 1965 on the occasion of the celebration of the 400th year of Christianity in the Philippines. Dr. Rosa C.P. Tenazas, however, also collected Spanish colonial materials from Argao, Cebu.
The Natural Science gallery has a collection of entomological items (fish, shells and invertebrates), a herbarium and, geological items (local fossils, samples of common rock types). This gallery is famous for its butterfly (Lepidoptera) collection made largely through the efforts of Prof. Julian Jumalon.
Over the years the collections have grown through donations by University's alumni and friends, purchases and scientific expeditions of the University's faculty and students. As a result, the museum has grown to be one of the major museums in the Philippines and as a museum of international stature.