Museo de Las Americas in San Juan
Inaugurated in 1992, the Museo de Las Americas in San Juan is a non-profit organization located in Norzagaray Street, San Juan. The museum is run and maintained through funds received from the Legislative Assembly and the Friends of the Museum private organization. The goal of the museum is to provide permanent and seasonal exhibitions whereby the public can gain an understanding of the history and culture of the Americas. It covers art from the pre-Columbian era to the present and a variety of artists from Latin America, the United States and Puerto Rico are showcased at the Museum. The Museum of the Americas is located in the Old Quarter of Ballaja which is in Old San Juan. The building itself has historical value and many enjoy looking at the various aspects of its architecture before making their way up to the second floor to visit the Museum.
It is interesting to note that this quarter of the Ballaja was built by the Spanish army in the 1800s and it served as a home to some 1000 soldiers and their families until 1898. The building has three floors, each of which has a number of balconies that form galleries around an inner patio. The original rooms served as bedrooms, warehouses, kitchens, jails, stables and dining rooms. In 1989 things changed drastically when the building was bombed by North American troops. During WWII it became a military hospital and eventually it was given back to Puerto Rico to serve as a cultural and educative building. It is now being used to house the museum.
The museum currently holds two permanent exhibitions. The first is about the Indians in America and it covers the twenty-two ethnic groups that were able to survive conquest and colonization. It pays tribute to those who, despite opposition and sometimes persecution, have been able to conserve certain aspects of their traditional culture some five centuries after their people were colonized. The exhibit features sculptures, recreated habitats and scenes and a theatre. It costs $2 per a person to enter this exhibition.
Other facilities at the Museo las Americas include administrative offices, an audio-visual room, an interactive factory for children, warehouses, public restrooms, wheelchair access, private parking and a shop where you can buy crafts and commemorative articles.