2023 December 15
Professor Danae made arrangements for us to visit the Spanish Academy which is located in Panama City. The is the arbiter of the Spanish language in Panama.
The black gate rolled back enough for us to enter the courtyard, then rumbled closed behind us. We walked through a large empty room to the staircase. Upstairs the beauty of this house, built in 1940, is on display. It has its original dark wood doors, ceiling and bookcases which contrast against the pale colored walls hung with portraits and other displays.
In 1969, this building became the offices, library and reading rooms of the Academy.
It is dedicated to Andres Bello who was born in Venezuela in 1781, then he went to Chile in 1829. He died there in 1865. His most important contribution to literature was his Grammar of the Spanish Language intended for use in the Americas but he also wrote literary and critical booklets, poetry, legal and scientific papers during his long and distinguished career. Examples of his works are on display in the reading room and a selection of coins and medals issued in his honor are set on a side table.
At the top of the curving staircase is a pleasant sitting room. We were given a tour through the offices, meeting and reading rooms. A library, housed in magnificent wood and glass cabinets, contains works produced by Panamanian authors.
On returning to the sitting room, we looked at the photos of the past and present directors of the Academy. The current acting director, Margaret Vásquez, Ph.D., produced a dictionary of the Spanish language as spoken in Panama.
The Panamanian Academy belongs to the Association of Academies of the Spanish Language affiliated with the Royal Spanish Academy, located in Madrid.