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    El Museo Castillo SerrallesEl Museo Castillo Serralles Ponce, Puerto Rico
    situated in the city of Ponce, Puerto Rico, the Serralles Castle is a beautiful mansion that overlooks the downtown area, constructed in the 1920s by Juan Eugenio Serralles, the son of businessman Juan Serralles, the creator of Destileria Serralles; and today, the castle has become a museum dedicated to providing information about the sugar cane and rum industries, as well as the impact it had on the economy of Puerto Rico. Sitting on two and a half acres with an outstanding manicured landscape, it would be listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. The estate would be purchased by the city from the heirs, with the castle valued at between $17 and $25 million, the city would buy it for just $350,000, which would include most of the original furniture. The city had wanted to turn it into a museum of Puerto Rican music, which would be created in another area of the city, so the mansion would be emptied by 1956 and the main structure maintained in excellent condition, but the grounds would become overrun with weeds and a total landscape plan would have to be done so that it could be restored to its original condition. The structure is an excellent example of Spanish Moroccan style of architecture that had been introduced into the country by architect Pedro Adolfo de Castro, who had two other examples of his work in the region. There are two large terraces, a symmetrical backyard garden and outside fountain, with the interior housing a huge dining room, extravagant hall and interior courtyard, with four floors on the house. The bottom floor houses the garage and a basement that was used for service quarters and the second floor contains the living room, library, kitchen, dining room, central patio and solarium. The third has all the sleeping quarters and the fourth is the terrace, where one could get the most magnificent views of the city. It is built completely of concrete with wooden rounded archways over the big windows and doorways, with many adorned with small stained glass panels and the exterior finished in stucco.

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    Museo de Arte de PonceMuseo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico
    considered the best art museum in Puerto Rico, the Ponce Museum of Art has a marvelous collection of European art and works by Puerto Rican artists, and the biggest museum in the Caribbean. Many believe it to be one of the finest in the Americas, it houses the most significant pre-Raphaelite collections in the Western Hemisphere with about 4500 works of art sitting in fourteen galleries. It was started by politician and philanthropist, Luis A. Ferre, opening in 1965. In 1956, Luis would travel to Europe and while there, he purchased many European art masterpieces that would encourage him to begin a project for a museum in Ponce, where he had been born. Using the expert advice of two people, Rene Taylor, an art and architecture enthusiast and professor at the University of Granada, Yale and Columbia and Julius S. Held, a specialist on Rubens and professor of art history at Barnard College and Columbia University, Ferre began compiling a collection of works based on value instead of popularity. He opened the museum in 1959, in Ponce, as a small house in the Ponce Cultural Center, with many of the original paintings still showcased in the present museum. As the years passed and the collection outgrew its spaces, Ferre bought a piece of land to construct a museum and recruited architect, Edward Durell Stone for the design. The museum would officially open in 1965. The museum contains the most significant collection of European artworks in Latin America with almost 4000 works that span the 14th century to the 20th and includes; Spanish Golden age, Italian baroque, contemporary Latin-American art and British pre-Raphaelite. Some of the more famous artists include; Bartolome Esteban Murillo, Peter Paul Rubens, Edward Burne-Jones, Lucas Cranach and Eugene Delacroix; while the main masterpiece is the Flaming June painted by Frederic Leighton.

March 31, 2014