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    Heron's PalaceHeron's Palace Tocumen, Panama
    The Palacio de las Garzas, or Heron's Palace, is the governmental office and residence of the President of Panama, getting its nickname from the large numbers of herons that roam freely through the courtyard. These magnificent birds were originally brought here by former president Belisario Porras, in 1922, at the suggestion of friend and renown Panamanian poet, Ricardo Miro. It is situated in the older quarter of the city that was constructed after the first settlement had been destroyed before the ransacking by pirate, Henry Morgan, and built in 1673. It has endured numerous changes over the years, originally used to house the Spanish governor, then the royal winery, a warehouse and the customs and national bank headquarters. In 1885, the structure would be replaced by the new presidential palace, with remodeling including the addition of a new room for the official events that would be held here, in the upper floor, as well as other rooms that would be used by the president and his family. Epifanio Garay, a Colombian artist, had been commissioned to paint all the portraits of the nation's presidents since 1855. The present palace was inaugurated in 1923, but it wouldn't be entirely occupied by the leader until 1938, when the National Bank moved out. In 1922, major restorations would begin, supervised by architect, Leonardo Villanueva-Meyer and some his fabulous designing included the Andalusian courtyard, twin towers and a third floor. In 1934, a new elevator would be installed that would be necessary for a state visit by President Franklin D. Roosevelt so he could get to the rooms he needed to. On the interior, the most significant room is the Salon Amarillo, known as the Yellow Room in English, where the majority of the formal events would be held. Tamarind's Room is the president's dining room and gets its name, Salon de los Tamarindos, from the numerous murals that Panamanian painter, Roberto Lewis, would be inspired by his ideas from Tobago Island and its renown tamarind trees. The Salon Morisco or Moorish Room would be added in 1922. It is a magnificent structure, as can be seen by the accompanying image, and showcases the excellent talent shown by the artisans that were involved in its construction, using only period tools and techniques.

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    Museum of Contemporary ArtMuseum of Contemporary Art Tocumen, Panama
    This is the only contemporary art museum in the country and has grown into more than just a museum of artworks, but also, a place for the citizens and its visitors, to come and learn about the art of this great nation, especially the art of Panama. It includes permanent collections exhibits, a library of art, temporary National and international exhibits, drawing and painting classes, tour guides for schools and groups, workshops for private and public school children, didactic workshops, framing workshop, seminars, conferences and guided tours about art history and appreciation, files for potential investors and the store that lies in the buildings basement with its catalogues, engravings, books and silk-screens. Before its founding in 1962, the Panamanian Institute of Art (PANARTE) would be located in various rented locales, and besides its outstanding exhibitions, would also present concerts, plays and presentations from famous movie directors. It housed many of its own installations, as well as displays by local artists and those from Latin America, with the works of each exhibitor becoming donations to the museum; so that a marvelous collection would be made without a permanent location becoming necessary. The board of directors would begin a search for a permanent location in 1983, since they were growing and needed more storage for growth and exhibitions. So, the Museum of Contemporary Art was created to showcase its permanent collections and have plenty of space to store it. Their library house many excellent books about its artists and those of Latin America, with numerous volumes about the artistic periods that would become an excellent resource for students and their learning experience.

May 16, 2011