BANÁAN: Pangasinan’s first-ever provincial museum opens to the public

Photo by Kenneth M. del Rosario

Pangasinan’s first-ever provincial museum has opened to the public. The BANÁAN Pangasinan Provincial Museum celebrates the rich history and vibrant culture of the province, preserving and promoting the place’s cultural legacy. 

For the people of Pangasinan, it’s a concrete reminder of their storied past. For visitors, it’s a journey through time that allows them to understand the province’s important heritage by heart.

BANÁAN is a Pangasinan word that means “meeting place.” It’s an apt name for a place of convergence, where robust multicultural influences of the past embrace the present and guide the future.

Photo by Kenneth M. del Rosario

Located in what used to be the historic Casa Real, Pangasinan’s first capitol, Banaan is nothing short of a cultural renaissance. It’s a beacon of the rich tapestry of Pangasinan’s history and purpose in nation-building moving forward.

Casa Real, the distinguished building housing the museum, has served many purposes over the years. It has been a courthouse, a school, and now a museum. The structure’s restoration was a labor of love. The result is a beautifully restored building that seamlessly blends its rich history with modernity.

The local government has invested a significant P35 million to put up the museum (not including the building’s restoration), with various artifacts, artworks, art installations, and interactive features.

There are several galleries that visitors can check out, including a gallery dedicated to Pangasinan’s geography and history; one that focuses on the province’s unique flora and fauna; and another that delves into Pangasinan’s myths and legends, including stories of goddesses and mermaids that have captivated the imagination of people over generations.

There’s also an ever-changing exhibit, which currently features the “Asin Gallery,” shedding light on the region’s salt farming, a nod to Pangasinan’s status as the country’s largest salt producer.

Another gallery worth looking forward to is one that explores the historical and trade ties between Pangasinan and China, as well as an exhibit that highlights the Spanish colonial era. One gallery is a poignant tribute to World War II, with Japanese memorabilia, coins, cash bills, flasks, old photos, and videos.

Photo by Kenneth M. del Rosario

Then there’s a gallery, which is an ode to transportation, showcasing buses, train memorabilia, and iconic buildings. One room puts the spotlight on Pangasinan’s fiestas and traditional homes, while another dives deep into folk beliefs and religious movements that have shaped Pangasinan’s identity.

Lastly, there’s a gallery that pays tribute to the creative spirit of its people, with films, music, literature, and prominent personalities, including photos of national artists on display.

Admission to the museum is free of charge at the moment. Visitors only need to register online at to secure their spot, as walk-in visits are discouraged. This initiative aims to make this cultural treasure accessible to all and foster a deeper understanding of Pangasinan’s rich heritage.

During the museum’s inauguration, Governor Ramon V. Guico III emphasized the importance of preserving and sharing their cultural heritage, noting that this museum is just the beginning of a broader cultural initiative. He also highlighted that the museum’s location next to the city hall and provincial jail, as well as other heritage sites, can contribute to a vibrant cultural row.

As visitors explore the BANÁAN Pangasinan Provincial Museum, they not only discover the province’s history and culture but also become part of its ongoing story. With its diverse galleries, stunning restoration, and commitment to accessibility, this museum promises to become one of Pangasinan’s most important stops on its cultural journey.

Photo by Kenneth M. del Rosario