Panama Canal Museum, Panama City

Panama Canal Museum, Panama City (must see)

The Panama Canal Museum documents the building of the Panama Canal. Visitors will find exhibits that chronicle the entire process, from before work began, to its transfer from American control to the Panamanian government.

The building that houses the Panama Canal Museum is also historically significant. It was built in 1874 and served as the original headquarters of the French Canal Company. The building was later used as the headquarters of the United States Isthmian Canal Commission. In 1912, the building was used as Panama City's main post office.

The museum has several levels with fascinating exhibits, plans, photos, and artifacts.

Countries across the world were long interested in building a canal that would shorten shipping times and increase safety. However, the financial costs, engineering feats required, and staggering deaths due to yellow fever and malaria significantly hindered the canal's development.

Visitors will learn about the first French attempt at building a canal, which was abandoned after skyrocketing costs and 20,000 deaths. Next, visitors will learn about American involvement in creating the canal that exists today.

The Panama Canal Museum has many exhibits focusing on the day-to-day lives of the canal workers, who came from 97 countries.

The lobby features a massive original Fresnel lens used in one of the now decommissioned lighthouses along the canal.

Why You Should Visit

The Panama Canal is one of the most fascinating feats of engineering and perseverance in the modern world. The Panama Canal Museum lays out the story of its creation while recognizing the challenges and hardships faced by the workers.


The exhibits feature a lot of information in Spanish. You can pay for an English language audio tour to save some effort in translation.

Opening hours: Tuesday - Sunday: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM; Closed on Mondays.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Panama City. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Panama Canal Museum on Map

Sight Name: Panama Canal Museum
Sight Location: Panama City, Panama (See walking tours in Panama City)
Sight Type: Museum/Gallery
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Panama City, Panama

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