The Archaeological Sites and Branch Museums Division was established in 1981 under the old name "Archaeological Sites and Museums Division" or ASMD. Its creation through R.A. 4846 came in the wake of a growing need for a stronger, centralized control system in the management of the twelve existing sites and branch museums located in different parts of the country.
At the outset, ASMD was placed under Mrs. Rosario B. Tantoco, concurrent as Curator of the Museum Education Division. However, the National Museum leadership soon realized the difiiculty of putting together two different functions under one head. So Mr. Reynaldo G. Flores, former Museum Researcher of the Anthropology Division, was assigned as Officer-InCharge of ASMD.
The initial roster of 12 sites and museums was composed of the following: Tuguegarao Branch Museum, 'Tuguegarao, Cagayan; National Museum Sub-station, Penablanca, Cagayan; T. Brillantes Memorabilia, Tayum, Abra; Kabayan Branch Museum, Kabayan, Benguet; Timbac Caves, Kabayan, Benguet; Crisologo House and Memorabilia, Vigan, Ilocos Sur; Magsingal Branch Museum, Magsingal, Ilocos Sur; Bolinao Branch Museum, Bolinao, Pangasinan; Sta. Ana Archaeological Site Museum, Sta. Ana, Manila; Palawan Museum, Quezon, Palawan; National Museum Sub-station, Quezon, Palawan; T.M. Kalaw Memorabilia, Lipa, Batangas; Cotabato Branch Museum, Butuan City; and, Balanghai Shrine, Butuan City.
Through time, more discoveries in the natural sciences necessitated the creation of additional sites or museums, as part of the National Museum's agenda of bringing museum services closer to the grassroots level. Some properties selected as museum sites did not belong yet to the National Museum and were being utilized merely under a Contract of Lease or a Memorandum of Agreement with their owners. With the change of leadership in 1987, preference was given to museums located on properties that were already turned over to the National Museum. This preference was intended for the purpose of exercising full control and authority over the improvement and development of the regional sites and branch museums.
The Division was renamed "Archaeological Sites and Branch Museums Division" (ASBMD) in 1989. Unfortunately, due to the change in administration policies for shrines and memorabilia, as well as budgetary constraints, three memorabilias, namely, T.M. Kalaw, Crisologo House and T. Brillantes, were dropped from the roster of ASBMD.
Today, the ASBMD serves as a central station looking into management, administration, control and developmental planning of the sites and branch museums. The original 12 sites of the early years have now increased to 19, and the number is still expected to grow in the future as more aggressive studies in the natural sciences are pursued. Manpower complement now stands at 75, from the original of 55 in 1981.