Over the weekend my wife and I decided we would go to the Panama Canal Museum in Casco Viejo. To be honest I never knew it was there until Anabell told me about it. This museum was hiding in plain site! How did I miss this gem? I have walked by it a hundred times. The museum is located in the, “Plaza of the Cathedral”.
The museum is housed in the beautifully restored “French Canal Company” building. For those that do not know, it was the French who first tried to build a canal across the isthmus of Panama. After the French left the building it housed the “U.S. Isthmian Canal Commission offices” until 1912 when it was transformed into the main post office. Today it is a stunning reminder of the work that went into building the Panama Canal and the struggle of a proud country fighting for its identity.
If you do not take the time to visit this museum you are doing yourself a disservice. I think it is easy to overlook this museum because it is not as well known as the much more popular, “Panama Canal History Museum” located at the Miraflores locks. The Panama Canal Museum is also sign posted 100% in Spanish. Translators are available if you would like.
The staff at the Panama Canal Museum were wonderful. They were all smiles and really seemed to be proud to work at the museum. One thing that you can not do at the Panama Canal Museum is take pictures. Don’t try, the security offers are stationed in each room to make sure you are at your best behavior. I must admit that the gold and silver coins were quite tempting!
If pictures are what you want make sure to take one with the giant lighthouse lamp. It is a stunning piece of the original canal sitting in the lobby.
Take a day and enjoy Casco Viejo. The Panama Canal Museum will only take up 1-2 hours of your day. I recommend going after lunch when the sun is at its peak. The nicely air conditioned museum will be a wonderful respite from the heat. The cost is only $2.00 per person. The Panama Canal Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday 9:30-5:00.
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The Hidden Panama Canal Museum in Casco Viejo by Randy Hilarski