Photos and article by The Metropolitan Museum of Manila
It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Rita K. Ledesma, a former leader, trustee, and colleague at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, and lifelong advocate of Philippine art, culture, and history.
Speaking on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Chairman Joselito Campos, Jr. said, “We are grateful for her invaluable contribution to the MET, and to her lasting achievements during the many years that she served as President and Vice-Chairman of the Museum.”
Rita K. Ledesma (1938-2021) was President of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila (MET) from 1993 to 1997, and Vice-Chairman from 1997 to 2001. Under her leadership, the Museum broadened its capacity for exhibition and museum programming, undertaking the first of the major renovations that saw the expansion of the Upper Galleries as well as the construction of the Basement Galleries. She paved the way for landmark MET exhibitions such as And They Will Come Afar: 2000 Years of Vatican Treasures (1994) and the exhibition of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas permanent collection of Pre-Colonial Gold and Pottery (1996 to 2015).
Vice-Chairman Doris Magsaysay Ho added, “Rita contributed so much to the Metropolitan Museum. She had so much passion for art and culture, and it was infectious. When the MET needed more space in the early 1990s, she convinced the BSP to approve the concept and worked with esteemed architect Lor Calma to design the second-floor galleries. She raised the funds with such determination, that we achieved the expansion in record time.”
Ms. Ledesma received many accolades for her contributions to Philippine arts and culture, and for being at the forefront of civic organizations such as the Friends of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Heritage Conversation Society, and the United Nations Development Fund for Women, Philippines. An avid writer, her byline appeared in the Lifestyle section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, where she wrote about topics ranging from personal reflections about life to ruminations on Philippine art, history, and culture. In 2018, she edited the two-volume book on her close friend, the Spanish-Filipino artist Betsy Westendorp, which was published by De La Salle University Publishing House.
Her love for the MET was abiding. She continued her patronage of the Museum and its programs beyond her terms on the Board of Trustees, always advocating for the spirit of volunteerism and the privilege of service during lectures and talks for different museum audiences. Even in times of adversity, most particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, she remained steadfast in her dedication to the Museum and was wholeheartedly committed to our mission of Art for All.
“Rita remained committed and unwavering in her support of the Museum and the art and cultural community to the very end. Up to a few days ago, we had enthusiastic discussions to work together on an archiving project of the history of the MET Museum. She will be greatly missed. In her honor, the MET will carry on her legacy and passion,” said Museum President Tina Colayco.
Rita K. Ledesma centered her life around art, culture, service, faith, and family. We extend our prayers and heartfelt condolences to her bereaved family.