Clarion Victoria Hotel and Suites Panama
Calle D, El Cangrejo
Panama City, 0
Phone: (507) 395 9000
Fax: (507) 395 9001
Arts & Museums
This former hospital has been declared national heritage venue and nowadays is a great place for important exhibitions.
The Museo De Ciencias Naturales is a popular natural science museum which houses a range of natural animal habitats. Those interested in paleontology should definitely add this to their itinerary, however, this museum is most popular with children. Call ahead for more details.
The construction of the famous Panama and French canal was a long and challenging process. The Museo Afroantillano pays tribute to the many Afro Antillean laborers who lost their lives at the time. This small museum depicts the scenario of the early 19th Century. There are relics, photos and antiques that represent the city's culture. Visit the museum for a quick overview on the untold story of the lives of these workers. Call ahead for more details.
Museo Antropológico Reina Torres de Araúz (MARTA) has an approximate area of 9000 meters dedicated to showcasing Pre-Columbian history of Panama as well as a range of cultural artifacts from all over the world. Apart from this, the museum also houses statues, ceramics, jewelry and more. Named after the anthropologist Reina Torres de Araúz, this is a great place to visit to know more about the cultural history of Panama. Call ahead for more details.
The passion of the curators at the Museo de Arte Contemporeano is visible in the straightforward, respectful presentation of the art hanging on the gallery walls and the occasional sculpture piece. Most of the 500 works in the permanent collection were created by Latin American artists, and Panamanian artists are naturally represented especially well. Based on an ambitious idea hatched in the 1960s, the Contemporary Art Museum opened in 1983 and has been deeply involved in community and school-age education even though it is privately owned. Film screenings sometimes are held here as well, and whenever you visit, be sure to ask a few questions... a personal guided tour might be forthcoming! A donation is requested for adults to enter the museum, with discounts for seniors, youth, and students. Special exhibits cost slightly more.
The classification of Casco Viejo as an UNESCO world heritage site, often attributed to the general richness of colonial architecture, is in fact largely based upon a more recent and political piece of history. The Salón Bolívar was the site of the 1826 Congreso Anfictiónico organized by Simón Bolívar to discuss the unification of Colombia, Mexico, and Central America into a single political entity. Bolívar himself was not able to attend, but the meeting of Latin American leaders was a critical formative event. The Salón is now entirely enclosed by glass for protection inside the 1920s-era Palacio Bolívar, which significantly also houses the offices of the Panamanian Ministry of Foreign Relations. Visitors can view the beautiful tiled courtyard inside the completely restored structure. Call ahead for details regarding timings.
A magical ambiance of color and creativity welcomes customers into Karavan through a doorway framed by bright ribbons and bold ornaments. The gallery showcases unique works of art, from bowls and other small trinkets to large paintings or mosaics appropriate to hang as a focal point for an imaginatively decorated room. In addition, multimedia works of art incorporating painting, mosaic, and even sculpture demonstrate an evolution of collage techniques, and free-standing carvings and sculptures speckle the floor space. Once inside, the gallery is most reminiscent of a little garden, blooming with fanciful works of art.
Perhaps the best collection of information about the Panama Canal is appropriately housed in the former headquarters of both the French Canal Company and the United States Isthmian Canal Commission. It was built as the Gran Hotel of the city in 1875, but just six years later became headquarters for the French instead. After many years managing the Canal, it was recommissioned in 1912 to be the main Post Office of Panama instead, and finally took on its current function in 1997. The Museo del Canal Interoceánico de Panamá (Interoceanic Canal Museum) presents a number of excellent exhibits on the Panama Canal, giving historical and political context to the action on the water and the decisions long made inside these walls. There is a small admittance fee, and English-speaking guides and audio tours are available inside.
Housed inside the former Santo Domingo Convent, Museo de Arte Religioso Colonial preserves the works of more than 200 religious Baroque art dating back to the 17th and the 18th Century. A tour to the museum will take you through number of wooden sculptures, chalices, church bells and oil paintings on metal. The altar which is gilded with gold is one of its kind to be found in Baroque art. A perfect place in the city to observe some unique pieces of art from the Colonial era.
The building that houses the Museum of Panamanian History might as well be one of the exhibits; the museum is on the second floor of the Palacio Municipal, an imposing neoclassical structure built in 1875 as the Gran Hotel, atop the site of the town hall where independence was declared from Spain in 1821. In 1881, it was converted to headquarters for the French Canal Company and now contains informative exhibits about many epochs of the Republic: the geology of the isthmus, pre-Colombian culture, colonial settlement, the massive process of building the Canal, and aspects of contemporary society. Some historical documents are safeguarded here, including the 1977 treaty that set out the terms for transferring control of the Former Canal Zone to Panama in 1999. Enthusiasts will enjoy the collections of old coins and stamps, and children will have fun with the interactive exhibits. Information is available in English and Spanish, and guides for tours are on the premises. The Museum also comprises a library, café, and bookstore for visitors.
A dazzling spread of sparkling jewels draw visitors to the Museo de la Esmeralda, across the street from the lovely Plaza de la Catedral in Casco Viejo. Beautiful emeralds shine out in their polished and unpolished forms and are even displayed as crystals appropriate for special exhibitions. A large portion of the space is devoted to jewelry which is available for purchase, and each customer receives a gift of an emerald. Entrance to the jewelry store and museum is free of charge.
The insidious influence of the Instituto Nacional de Cultura (INAC) can be seen throughout Panama City: wherever a museum stands, a public art gallery opens its door. The headquarters are not open to visitors but are interesting to take a look at nonetheless. They are housed in the ex-supreme court building—cannons pointed outwards from its front steps—that was also used as part of the movie set for a 2008 James Bond movie which filmed a number of scenes in Casco Viejo. Besides, the building is in a location you'd want to visit regardless—it's just next to the art gallery that INAC manages in the vaults of Las Bóvedas, 17th-century dungeons, and across from the impressive Plaza de Francia.