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Professor Anton Rajer at the MCA

Books & Reading Last week the restorer of the National Theatre of Panama and the author of the book "Paris in Panama." Professor Anton Rajer, the worlds foremost authority on the works of Panamanian artist Roberto Lewis, presented a lecture on the recently inaugurated exhibit of Lewis' work at Panama's Museum of Contemporary Art in Ancon. The author signed his limited and numbered edition of "Paris in Panama" - "Paris in Panama is an inspiring bilingual book documenting my country's art and history. It brings alive an important and lost chapter in Latin America's artistic heritage and focuses on the need to preserve and restore it."—Carmen Aleman Healy, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Panama

Paris en Panamá / Paris in Panama

Robert Lewis and the History of His Restored Art Works in the National Theatre of Panama

Anton Rajer

This fascinating bilingual book describes for the first time in print the incredible story of the history and restoration of Roberto Lewis's (1874–1949) masterpieces in the National Theatre in Panama. Lewis, who was born in Panama, created his monumental works of art on canvas while living in Paris and brought them to Panama in 1907 for installation in the new theatre, an Italian opera house on the shore of the Pacific Ocean, not far from the Panama Canal. The fully illustrated and researched book places Lewis in the context of Belle Epoque France and documents the recent four-year art restoration process. Included are copies of the original contracts, newspaper articles, and drawings by Lewis for his murals. UNESCO declared Lewis's artistic creation a Cultural Heritage of Mankind in 1997.

For more information about the book, in both English and Spanish, see

Distributed for the Robert Lewis Research Project

Anton Rajer is an art conservator and museum consultant who has worked on collections in the United States, Latin America, and Europe. He teaches at the University of Wisconsin—Madison and was formerly the State Capitol conservator. He is co-author, with Christine Style, of Public Sculpture in Wisconsin. The UW Press also distributes his recent book Musuems, Zoos, and Botanical Gardens of Wisconsin.

For more information contact Benson Gardner, our publicity manager, phone: (608) 263-0734, email:

Press Releases 2006

U.S. Fulbrighter Unveils Book on Panamanian Artist

May 9, 2006

On May 9, former U.S. Fulbright scholar Anton Rajer unveiled his book “Paris in Panama” commemorating the one-hundredth anniversary of the famous Panamanian artist Roberto Lewis’s paintings in Panama’s National Theater. This special event, held at the Museum of Contemporary Art, was sponsored by the U.S. Embassy and the Panama City Mayor’s Office, among others, and attended by more than 300 people. Mainstream Panamanian media coverage of the new book has been extensive.

Rajer’s book, a true labor of love, is the product of twelve years of research in France, the U.S., Italy, Spain and Panama. Over the course of eleven chapters, “Paris in Panama” presents the life and art of Roberto Lewis from 1897 to 1908. Lewis, a painter and sculptor, was a towering figure in Panamanian art history. A student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Paris, he also served as the Panamanian Consul in Paris from 1904 to 1912. Some of Lewis’s most important works are his murals and paintings in Panama’s Presidential Palace as well as the National Theater.

Anton Rajer, who holds degrees from Harvard University and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, is a professional art conservator. Under multiple Fulbright awards, he has worked in Brazil, Bolivia and Panama. The author of five books and numerous articles, Rajer has served as a museum consultant in the U.S., Latin America and Europe. He has also been a visiting professor for a restoration project at the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.

Panama holds a special place in Rajer’s heart. A well-known figure here, he has spent years restoring the murals at the Panama Canal Authority’s Administration Building in addition to Lewis’s paintings at the Salon Tamarindo and Salon Amarillo at the Presidential Palace and the ceiling of the historic National Theater. Aside from his restoration projects, Rajer has taught art courses and architecture at the private Catholic University Santa Maria La Antigua and at the University of Panama.

Rajer, through his dedication and years of hard work, has succeeded in creating greater awareness of, and appreciation for, Roberto Lewis’s great contribution to the visual arts. His book serves to record and preserve this important aspect of Panama’s cultural heritage, both for Panamanians themselves and art-lovers throughout the world.

Copyright 2007 by Don Winner for As usual, go ahead and use whatever you want as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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