The Afro-Antillean Museum (Calle 24 Este off Avenida Justo Arosemena/Avenida 3 Sur, tel. 262-5348 or 501-4130, 8:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Tues.–Sat., US$1 adults, US$0.25 children) preserves the memory of the thousands of West Indian workers, mostly from Barbados, who supplied most of the labor for the building of the Panama Canal.
These workers, who had the most dangerous and grueling jobs during canal construction, are often little more than a footnote in accounts of the building of the canal. Their descendants today make up a significant part of the population of the country.
The museum is tiny and worth a quick visit. However, beware that its location is on a dicey street and not the sort of place a tourist should be wandering around. If you do come, take a taxi and have the driver wait outside the entrance for you; you can see everything the museum has to offer in about a half hour.
The museum is installed in an old wooden house stocked with canal construction-era furnishings and photos meant to give a sense of what life might have been like for these workers, though it is certainly much more comfortable than the shacks many of the workers had to make do with in those days.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition