Current Exhibits

Liberating Learning?: The Story of Desegregation in Alachua County Schools

Main Exhibit Hall

The story of desegregation of schools in Alachua County is one of people from different backgrounds coming together to make a difficult time as painless as possible. There were some bumps in the road, such as the boycott of Lincoln High School in November of 1969 and the riot at Gainesville High School in March of 1970, but overall the black and white schools came together as smoothly as could be expected. On February 6, 1970 Alachua County had its first full day of desegregated classrooms, seven months earlier than they had planned. This “Fruitbasket Turnover” required closing Lincoln High School, a pillar of the black community, and transferring all of its students and staff to formerly white schools. This loss is one that is still felt today.

The exhibition includes images from Lincoln High School and Gainesville High School yearbooks and images on loan from the Lincoln High School Alumni Association.

Featured image – Gainesville High School cheerleaders, 1971 Hurricane

Finding the Fountain of Youth: Exploring the Myth of Florida’s Magical Waters

Mary Ann Cofrin Exhibit Hall

This exhibit is based upon Rick Kilby’s award-winning book, Finding the Fountain of Youth: Ponce de Leon and Florida’s Magical Waters. The former traveling exhibit was created by the Florida Museum of Natural History and was donated to the Matheson by author Rick Kilby. The exhibit examines how the legend of Ponce de Leon’s quest for restorative waters shaped the Sunshine State’s image as a land of fantasy, rejuvenation and magical spring-fed waters.

Upcoming Programs

Daughters of Sweet Waters: Oshun in Florida
with Marlowe Moore Fairbanks and Lesley Gamble
Saturday, February 24

Dancer/choreographer Marlowe Moore Fairbanks presents “Daughters of Sweet Waters,” a dance-film collaboration with underwater videographer Lesley Gamble of the Springs Eternal Project. The work celebrates Oshun, the African Orisha of Love and fresh waters, who manifests in Florida as our springs and rivers. Orishas are from the Yoruba tradition, divine emissaries who embody the powers, gifts and intelligence of the natural world. This workshop includes a talk about the importance of African heritage and wisdom to our understanding of embodiment both in, and as, nature. It concludes with a guided movement workshop where we explore AfroCaribbean dance techniques as another way to connect with—and discover more about—Florida’s springs while honoring our sacred relationship to the earth. No previous dance experience necessary. All are welcome.

The Highwaymen: Florida’s African-American Landscape Painters
with Gary Monroe
Saturday, March 3

In the late 1950s in rural Florida, a group of young, self-taught African American artists began to paint optimistic and colorful Florida landscapes. They periodically left their backyard studios and took to the highway to sell their works to white customers, earning the name The Highwaymen. Their glowing images represented the American dream. Photographer Gary Monroe got to know these artists and will speak about their work and their legacy. A book signing will follow his presentation.

Finding the Fountain of Youth: Ponce de León and Florida’s Magical Waters
with Rick Kilby
Saturday, March 17

We are thrilled to have author Rick Kilby back at the Matheson to discuss his award-winning book “Finding the Fountain of Youth: Ponce de León and Florida’s Magical Waters.” The current exhibit in the Mary Ann Cofrin Exhibit Hall is based on this book and was donated by Kilby.

Juan Ponce de León reached the shores of Florida on April 2, 1513. Although historians have long debunked the myth of the conquistador’s search for the Fountain of Youth, his fabled quest remains inextricably tied to the image of the Sunshine State. Even today, Florida’s mythical, magical waters–some reputed to have healing powers–remain a potent part of the state’s appeal for tourists and residents alike.

More than a collection of nostalgic kitsch, however, the book also addresses the very real problem of protecting Florida’s fragile springs. These pristine waters–numbering more than 700–were once revered by the Timucua and Calusa and celebrated by a variety of writers, including William Bartram and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Tacky Tourist Party
Amazing Give Kick-Off
Wednesday, March 21
$25/person (food and drink included)

Wear your best tacky tourist costume and help us kick-off the 24-hour Amazing Give fundraiser! The evening will include a costume contest, Florida-themed food and drink, photo booth, and Florida trivia challenge. Dig out your fanny packs and Hawaiian-print shirts and join us!

Tickets can be purchased online by clicking here or by mailing your check to the museum at 513 East University Avenue, Gainesville FL, 32601.

What’s The Amazing Give?
The Amazing Give will take place from 6pm March 21 to 6pm March 22 and will raise money for local nonprofits through a single online donation platform, providing a simple way to connect donors to the charitable causes they care about most and encourage them to take action. This 24-hour online fundraising effort hosted by the Community Foundation of North Central Florida with the help of sponsors, will offer our area of nonprofits the chance to raise funds to support their critical missions.

Florida Soul: From Ray Charles to KC and the Sunshine Band
with John Capouya
Friday, April 13

Born in the era of segregation with origins in gospel, rhythm and blues, and jazz and reaching maturity during the civil rights movement, soul music is still enjoyed today and is still very much a part of our collective culture. Author John Capouya draws on extensive interviews with surviving musicians to re-create the excitement and honor the achievements of soul’s golden age, establishing Florida as one of the great soul music capitals of the United States. His book, Florida Soul: From Ray Charles to KC and the Sunshine Band, explores the story of Ray Charles’s musical upbringing in Florida, highlights the careers of Pensacola singers James and Bobby Purify and their producer, Papa Don Schroeder, reveals how Hank Ballard created his international hit song “The Twist” after seeing the dance in Tampa, and profiles Gainesville singer Linda Lyndell (“What a Man”), to name a few.

The Matheson is excited to welcome John Capouya to share about this important history. A book signing will follow his presentation.