Current Exhibitions

Gainesville’s Modern Landmarks: Celebrating our Mid-Century Architectural Past (1945-1975)

Main Exhibit Hall

This exhibition has been produced in partnership with Gainesville Modern and the Department of Special and Area Studies Collections of George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida. Every city has a period of time that defines its built environment and architectural character. For Gainesville, that moment was the mid-20th century. This exhibition highlights some of the outstanding examples of the Mid-Century style that are worthy of consideration for landmark status. The urgency of landmarking these irreplaceable resources has been heightened by the demolition of St. Michael’s Church (1975) designed by Frank Lloyd Wright protégé Nils M. Schwiezer. As Matheson Board member and Gainesville Modern president Marty Hylton says, “Landmark status, however, does not mean freezing buildings in time, but retaining them and adapting them to meet new community needs.”

Tom Petty’s Gainesville: Where Dreams Began

Mary Ann Cofrin Exhibit Hall

Runs through Saturday, January 11, 2020

This exhibition focuses on the early days of Tom Petty’s 40-year history in rock and roll, that all started right here in Gainesville, Florida. The show includes never-before exhibited Petty memorabilia, such as handwritten lyrics to his hit song “Don’t Come Around Here No More,”  instruments and equipment used by Tom’s first band, Mudcrutch, as well as personal items his local childhood friends and family have generously shared with us. This first study on Petty launches a new collecting direction for the museum, as we focus on the rich musical history of Gainesville, home to nine musicians who have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Featured image (above) – Tom Petty with his band The Epics from a Lipham’s Music Store ad in the 1967 Gainesville High School yearbook

Upcoming Programs

Book Launch for Disasters in Paradise: Natural Hazards, Social Vulnerability, and Development Decisions
with Dr. Amanda Concha-Holmes, Dr. Anthony Oliver-Smith, Dr. Sarah Cervone, and Juan Concha-Holmes
Thursday, November 14

We are honored to host the book launch for Disasters in Paradise: Natural Hazards, Social Vulnerability, and Development Decisions (Lexington Books, 2019). The evening will include a presentation by the authors, a Q&A with the audience, and a reception.

Long considered ground zero for global climate change in the United States, Florida presents the perfect case study for disaster risk and prevention. Building on the idea that disasters are produced by historical and contemporary social processes as well as natural phenomena, Amanda D. Concha-Holmes and Anthony Oliver-Smith present a collection of ethnographic case studies that examine the social and environmental effects of Florida’s public and private sector development policies. Contributors to Disasters in Paradise explore how these practices have increased the vulnerability of Floridians to hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts, frosts, and forest fires.

The Letters of George Long Brown: A Yankee Merchant on Florida’s Antebellum Frontier
with Dr. James Denham and Dr. Keith Huneycutt
Saturday, November 16

In 1840, twenty-three-year-old George Long Brown migrated from New Hampshire to north Florida, a region just emerging from the devastating effects of the Second Seminole War. This volume presents over seventy of Brown’s previously unpublished letters to illuminate day-to-day life in pre–Civil War Florida.

Brown’s personal and business correspondence narrates his daily activities and his views on politics, labor practices, slavery, fundamentalist religion, and local gossip. Having founded a successful mercantile establishment in Newnansville (a former county seat of Alachua County), Brown traveled the region as far as Savannah and Charleston, purchasing goods from plantations and strengthening social and economic ties in two of the region’s most developed cities. In the decade leading up to the Civil War, Brown married into one of the largest slaveholding families in the area and became involved in the slave trade. He also bartered with locals and mingled with the judges, lawyers, and politicians of Alachua County. The Letters of George Long Brown provides an important eyewitness view of north Florida’s transformation from a subsistence and herding community to a market economy based on cotton, timber, and other crops, showing that these changes came about in part due to an increased reliance on slavery. Brown’s letters offer the first social and economic history of one of the most important yet little-known frontiers in the antebellum South.

Florida Modern: Architecture of the Sunshine State Mid-20th Century (1945-1975)
with Morris Hylton III
Thursday, December 5

In partnership with Gainesville Modern, we are excited to host historian and scholar Marty Hylton to discuss the history of Florida architecture from the mid-20th century and highlight some of the state’s most important and historic mid-century structures. This is the first program in a series of “Mod Talks” that Gainesville Modern will be hosting from December to their annual Gainesville Modern Week in March. The program coincides with our current exhibition, Gainesville’s Modern Landmarks: Celebrating Our Mid-Century Architectural Past (1945-1975), which Marty curated.

At the beginning of the program Marty will also briefly discuss the second phase of the Gainesville Mid-20th Century Cultural Resource Survey – a partnership of the City of Gainesville, Gainesville Modern, and the University of Florida’s Historic Preservation Program.

A reception, sponsored by Gainesville Modern, will follow the presentation.