The Exhibit (1965-1978)
Although the significance of the Pan American Center was to attract people to invest in Latin America, it often did so by exposing people to the gems of Latin American Art. In St. Augustine, the permanent exhibit on display in the Pan American Center took the visitor through time to show the changes that happened to Latin American art as a consequence of Spanish colonialism.
Take this time to move through the exhibit yourself, just as someone would have found it in 1965-1978 in period photographs below, split up by section, or better yet let our tour guide (likely one of the women pictured right) who wrote a detailled account of her tours down sometime in the early 1970s lead you! it was her job after all, just look for the italicized text, throughout the page!
"Good morning, come on in. You are now in the Pan American Center where we have an exhibit of Latin American Art. This is a good will gesture to our “sister” Spanish colonies to the South-Mexico, and Central and South America. On this floor you will see the earliest artifacts—the Pre-Columbian (on, things made before Columbus reached the New World), and upstairs, by way of the outside stairs you just passed...you will find Spanish colonial Art showing the influence of Spain on these people, there are things from the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries. This is a good building to browse in, so take your time and please don’t hesitate to ask questions!"
The pre-Columbian collection showcased art in Latin America from mainly Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico, and Costa Rica before 1492 showcasing a variety of items, which were the most popular, including gold objects, that were guarded by the staff. Here our tour guide pointed out that:
"All items are original - no reproductions. We have nothing from the Olmec, Mayan or Aztec cultures in Mexico, and nothing from the Inca from Peru...All old textiles in frames & the brightly colored hanging (or grave cloth) in the back room came from Peru. Practically all pre-Columbian textiles do come from Peru, because they were put into burials that are located in the desert area (the Coastal Plain)...The strings of “beads” in the case to the left are really spindle wheels."
The Spanish Colonial room showed mainly religious art produced in Latin American by Spanish colonists during the colonial period in New Spain, with a variety of Christian affiliated objects. In response to one of the frequent questions that you may very well be asking yourself now, our tour guide enlightened guests, saying:
"Was there a chapel room in this house? – Not that we know of. Maybe Father Hassett did have one, but which room he might have used we wouldn’t have the slightest idea about. Our room was set up as a device to protect the old and fragile religious sculptures, and to display them in a sympathetic setting."
Latin American Art
The smallest room of the exhibit, this section of the Pan American Center tried to show how Spanish motifs had been adopted into art in Latin America, being infused with the various native cultures. It also showed modern fashion in Latin American countries, as well as colorful 20th century art by Latin American artists, being rotated with great frequency.
The tour guides manifested this part of the exhibit. As noted in the picture found at the top of this page, note how the tour guides dressed themselves in traditional yet temporary clothing from Latin American countries, integrating themselves into the exhibit, bringing it to life.