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

Sunshine State Festival Kickoff
Friday, January 24, 2020

The annual Sunshine State Book Festival is hosted by the Writers Alliance of Gainesville. The evening will include a Meet & Greet reception with the festival’s participating authors and presenters. They will be introduced and briefly describe their festival presentations.

Matheson Antiques, Vintage Floridiana, and Rare Book Sale
Saturday, January 25, 2020
$1 suggested donation for adults, children – free

The annual Matheson Antique, Vintage Floridiana, and Rare Book Sale is back! It will be held at the Matheson on Saturday, January 25, from 9am to 5pm. This event is open to the public and will feature vendors from all over Florida. There is a suggested donation of $1 for adults, which can be paid at the door, but children are free. Visitors will be able to view and purchase a unique selection of Floridiana, historic postcards, rare books, antiques and other memorabilia.

Interested in vendor information? Please contact the museum at 352-378-2280.

The Committee
with Sterling Watson
Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Committee is set in Gainesville, a sleepy late 1950s Florida university city. Its characters—professors, students, townspeople rich and poor, and politicians—are both typical of such a place and unusual, even bizarre, for the challenges they face and the changes they undergo when their lives are suddenly disrupted by the nefarious workings of a shadowy group of men, The Committee, who use the powers of government and the police to investigate and reveal the most private acts of innocent men and women.

This is a story of love, both licit and hidden, war, friendship, betrayal, compromise, and finally the necessity to stand firm against the encroachments upon freedom by men who believe they do God’s and the government’s righteous work. Set against the backdrop of political turmoil and the clash of classes and cultures—Southern, academic, patrician, and demimonde—The Committee pits protagonist Tom Stall, scholarly, ambitious, and rising in his world of teaching and administration, against two men and a woman—a colleague, a university president, and an old friend turned deadly enemy—in a struggle for the soul of a town, a university, and an ideal.

Tension and suspense build with crushing inevitability as hidden forces and unforeseen events threaten Stall’s career and finally his very life.

A book signing will follow Mr. Watson’s presentation.

Cat Tale: The Wild, Weird Battle to Save the Florida Panther
with Craig Pittman
Saturday, February 15, 2020

We are thrilled to welcome back journalist and author, Craig Pittman, to speak at the Matheson about his latest book Cat Tale: The Wild, Weird Battle to Save the Florida Panther. A book signing will follow his presentation.

It wasn’t so long ago when a lot of people thought the Florida panther was extinct. They were very nearly right. That the panther still exists at all is a miracle—the result of a desperate experiment that led to the most remarkable comeback in the history of the Endangered Species Act. And no one has told the whole story—until now.

With novelistic detail and an eye for the absurd, Craig Pittman recounts the extraordinary story of the people who brought the panther back from the brink of extinction, the ones who nearly pushed the species over the edge, and the cats that were caught in the middle. This being Florida, there’s more than a little weirdness, too.

An engrossing narrative of wry humor, sharp writing and exhaustive reportage, Cat Tale shows what it takes to bring one species back and what unexpected costs such a decision brings.