Panama is not well known for having first class museums. These information silos have not been on the main agenda of our presidents since the birth of the nation. We only have one excellent museum open to the public that is worthwhile visiting. I’m referring to the Museo del Canal Interoceánico located at Casco Viejo in front of Parque Catedral. This is a must see museum if you want to dig deep into the history of the Panama Canal.
Another museum that has good intentions in becoming a great tourist attraction is Museo Antropológico Reina Torres de Araúz (MARTA). Unfortunately it’s currently closed to the public. I’m trying to find out why. So far authorities are tight-lipped on the subject.
Initially this museum was located in what was the old railroad station of Panama at Plaza 5 de mayo. Its construction began in 1912 following the American Federal architectural style and remained in service until the fifties when it reverted to Panama and was destined to many uses until it opened as a museum in 1976. It’s presently used as an art training school.
The Museo Antropológico Reina Torres de Araúz conveys the rich cultural heritage of Panama with a collection of pre-Colombian artifacts and exhibits. This was Panama’s best anthropology museum, with more than 15,000 pre-Columbian pieces, including artifacts from the Barriles tribe, the earliest residents of Panama until 700 B.C. There was also an interesting collection of golden huacas, the tiny ceremonial figures that were buried with indigenous VIPs, as well as more modern pollera dresses and antique household items and farm tools.
Even as we speak, the new museum is in the process of opening at its new home at the Museo Tucán, which is a far prettier location on the edge of the Natural Metropolitan Park. The museum was built with funds received from the government of Taiwan when Mireya Elisa Moscoso was president from 1999 to 2004.
The new facilities of the Anthropological Museum Reina Torres de Araúz (MARTA), located in Llanos de Curundú, Panama City, was inaugurated by the first lady, Vivian Fernandez de Torrijos, on August 21, 2006, For its inauguration, the Museo Soumaya of Mexico provided 32 sculptures created by Auguste Rodin. This exhibition is considered one of the largest and most important of Rodin’s creations outside of France.
Future phases will include digital imaging museum collections, an archeology lab, a specialized library, a research center on pre-history and history of Panama and art classes.
The covered area of 2,500 square meters with spacious areas for exhibitions, an auditorium, amphitheater, over 3,500 square meters for outdoor activities, facilities for disabled people, adjoining six acres of tropical dry forest. The museum also plans to conduct archaeological samples and tours in the forest in the near future.
When I was there, I was able to shoot only three pictures. A security guard told me no pictures were allowed. I asked him why. He didn’t answer, so I left. This is the first time an authority tells me that photographs are not allowed outside a museum building. The pictures were being taken from the parking lot. Beats me.
These are the three pictures I was able to shoot while I was there before the security guard popped out. Here we go.
I’m puzzled regarding the mystery of this public building donated by the people of Taiwan. I promise to investigate what is going on and when it’s expected to be opened to the general public. Until then, Good Day.