Discover History and Culture at Las Banquitas in Orange Walk, Belize
Photo by Banquitas House of Culture (NICH)
About Las Banquitas
Emmanuel N. Arinze, a former president of the Commonwealth Association of Museums, wrote an eloquent essay about the value of museums back in 1999, but his words remain as powerful today as they were back then. He describes museums as institutions that promote unity, peace and understanding, helping visitors to understand the world in which they live via exhibits, stories and artifacts that bring the past alive.
Big or small, museums promote cultural diplomacy and bring people together, thereby initiating dialog and becoming educational repositories. Given the responsibility assigned to the museum concept, you might wonder whether Las Banquitas House of Culture, Orange Walk’s epicenter of memories, is big enough to meet this weighty responsibility.
In fact, it’s the perfect size to hold treasures that include Mayan ceramics, carvings, ancient weapons, European tools brought to Belize to cut mahogany, and tap trees for the chicle used to make chewing gum.
Located adjacent to the New River, Las Banquitas was named for little benches installed along the riverside park that is a lush setting for any activity. The park includes a restaurant, picnic tables and an outdoor amphitheater for performances and programs of interest to residents and tourists alike.
Inside the museum building, visitors find permanent and traveling exhibitions that open doors to the people and lifestyles of Belizeans who settled the area centuries ago. In addition to priceless Maya artifacts, exhibits showcase several of the area’s most important industries, including cane farming and logging. These industries brought Orange Walk to the attention of traders and commercial interests, opening new markets.
No Las Banquitas House of Culture visit would be complete without patronizing area restaurants like the Paniscea, where international cuisine complements your journey through relics of the past. Indulge your adventurous palate at Lamanai Riverside Restaurant, named for one of Orange Walk’s most popular tourist attractions: Lamanai Maya ruins, a site occupied by Mayas circa 1500 BC.
Arrange your visit in advance. While the museum posts regular hours, you’ll be on safer ground if you call (501) 322-0517 before you appear at the museum–especially if your party is large. While the cost of admission is free, installations may be mounted that renquire a small donation. Ask about that when you call to book your visit.
A small repository of the past, Las Banquitas House of Culture is rich in history and well worth your visit, especially if you can’t get enough Mesoamerican history and want to explore more of Orange Walk on your next visit to Belize.