How We Got Here
As the American Era of the Panama Canal (1904-1999) was drawing to a close, three former residents of the Panama Canal Zone living in Florida decided that it was an appropriate time to begin to plan to preserve the history of this era.
In the Beginning
President Joseph J. Wood; Vice President Betty LeDoux-Morris; and Executive Vice President Charles W. Hummer, Jr., published a museum planning document and initial marketing plan and, in March 1998, achieved incorporation of the Panama Canal Society Foundation, Inc., as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. By the end of that year other board members had joined these leaders to govern the Foundation, and volunteers in Panama had begun to collect for the museum objects, photographs, books, and archives relating to the American Era. Soon the organization began doing business as the Panama Canal Museum and had its name officially changed in 2002 to reflect better its function as a museum.
Because many Americans from the Canal Zone and Panama returning to the United States had settled in Florida and in particular in the Tampa Bay area, the museum’s board of directors decided to locate the museum in Seminole, also the location for the Panama Canal Society’s headquarters. Situated first in a small third-floor suite of an office center for two years, the museum moved in 2001 to its current larger ground floor suite.
An annual dues/donation appeal; an annual silent auction; fundraising trips to Panama and cruises; a store with many attractive Panama Canal related items, including a prize-winning cookbook, museum calendars and annual collectible ornaments; outreach efforts in the community; interesting museum programs and informative publications and website have all contributed to sustaining the Panama Canal Museum for its first few years.
The Panama Canal Museum is approved by the IRS as a 501 (c) (3) non profit organization. All contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.