by J Robertson Miller, 2024
Banco Nacíonal recently reopened their museum to display artifacts and showcase their history.
The museum is housed in a lovely house that was built in 1925. They have maintained the architectural beauty of the house.
Jairo Pacheco met us on arrival and ushered us into the climate-controlled interior. The temperature and humidity is maintained at optimum levels to protect the building and its contents. Each of us signed the guest book.
When you visit be sure to look up to see the magnificent coffered ceilings. The word “coffer” means “indentation.” These ceilings have a decorative 3-D grid created with several segments (a “tray ceiling” has only a single recessed form). One room has white plaster 3-D details on its ceiling.
Mosaic tiles decorate the floors in many parts of the house. Tiny hexagonal (6-sided) tiles create an ornate pattern on the floor of the first room you enter. Some rooms and halls have wide dark wood flooring.
The windows and doors are tall and narrow with arched tops. Note the Italian marble wall panels and the detail on the stairs and some rooms.
A library on the ground floor contains a collection of books. A photograph of Jorge Conte-Porras and his biography are on display. As the cultural director, he worked at Banco Nacíonal for 40 years.
He facilitated the purchase of this property, the residence of Dr. Juan José Diaz Boyd, in 1980 and created the Casa Museo Banco Nacíonal de Panamá. It opened in 1983.
On display are reproductions (for reasons of safety and security) of gold and silver coins and stamps, a teller’s booth, a ledger with the original hand written entries, paper money (one set was in use only 7 days), mail boxes from 1950, and a variety of native ceramic pottery (now being appraised), plus many more items of the bank’s history. The collections and history of house and bank was capably explained by Dayra Vásquez, BA. Her knowledge was impressive.
More display areas are being prepared. We peeked in at an unfinished room and heard the sounds of tools and power equipment being used. Once the new sections are open, we plan another visit.