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

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.

Featured Image (above) – “The Glass-Bottomed Boat at Silver Springs, Fla.” courtesy of the Matheson History Museum collection

Upcoming Programs

Reception for Pulitzer Prize Winner Dr. Jack E. Davis
Sunday, May 20

The Matheson is honored to host a reception to celebrate Dr. Jack E. Davis’s Pulitzer Prize. His latest book, The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea, won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in History. Dr. Davis will say a few words and sign copies of his book, which will be for sale in the museum’s gift shop. Refreshments will be available. This event is free and open to the public. Come celebrate with us!

The history of the Gulf of Mexico is inextricably linked with the history of America. In The Gulf Davis explores this beautiful history from the Florida Keys to the Rio Grande River and introduces readers to a cast of characters and previously untold stories. Davis reminds us that preserving a region’s history is one step towards preserving its future.

A Certain Loneliness: A Memoir
Book Launch
with Sandra Gail Lambert
Friday, September 14

We are honored to host the launch of Sandra Lambert’s powerful memoir, A Certain Loneliness: A Memoir. A book signing will follow her presentation.

In A Certain Loneliness Lambert probes the intersection of disability, queerness, and female desire in this frank and funny memoir of her lifelong struggle with isolation and independence after contracting polio as a child. Frustrations, slapstick moments, and grand triumphs are all couched in the long history of humanity’s relationship to the natural world. As fellow Gainesville author Lauren Groff said, “This book is an act of tremendous beauty.”

Quest for Blackbeard: The True Story of Edward Thache and His World
with Baylus Brooks
Wednesday, September 19

Join us on “International Talk Like a Pirate Day” to hear about the fascinating life of Edward Thache, better known as Blackbeard. 2018 is the 300th anniversary of Blackbeard’s death. Maritime historian Baylus Brooks will discuss his book, Quest for Blackbeard: The True Story of Edward Thache and His World. A book signing will follow his presentation.

Born into a substantial family in Bristol, England, the eldest son of Capt. Edward and Elizabeth Thache sailed for Jamaica with his family sometime before 1695. Capt. Edward Thache of St. Jago de la Vega or “Spanish Town” died there at age 47 while his son, Edward “Blackbeard” Thache, Jr. joined the British Royal Navy and fought in Queen Anne’s War aboard the HMS Windsor. After years of research this progressive book illustrates the flaws in Capt. Charles Johnson’s famous 1724 book, A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates, and attempts to rediscover exactly who Blackbeard was.

Son of Real Florida: Stories from My Life
with Jeff Klinkenberg
Friday, September 21

In his latest book Son of Real Florida: Stories from My Life, Jeff Klinkenberg portrays Florida’s people, places, food, and culture with a deep understanding that does not relegate them to cliché. He writes with warmth and authenticity of a state he still sees as wondrous in its own ways. Though some may think the real Florida is a thing of the past, he says, “Do not tell me Florida is no longer a paradise.”

Klinkenberg recounts what it was like to grow up in pre-air conditioning Florida and how he became a newspaper reporter in mid-century Miami. He introduces us to the stout-hearted folks who have learned to live and even prosper among the insects, sharptoothed critters, and serious heat. He also takes us to some of the most interesting, little-known places in the state. Along the way, he stops to impart true Florida wisdom, from how to eat a Key lime pie to which writers and artists every Floridian should know.

Jeff Klinkenberg will speak at the Matheson on Friday, September 21, about his love of Florida and why the state is still so special. A book signing will follow his presentation.

Stay tuned for more events!