Current Exhibits

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.”

Featured Image (above) – Gainesville Fire Rescue Station 4, courtesy of Gainesville 360

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

The Journey Down Four Florida Roads
with James Williams
Saturday, May 11

Journalist and author James Williams will join us on May 11th to discuss his latest book Four Florida Roads.

Four Florida Roads is a narrative of these iconic roads: Bellamy Road, Tamiami Trail, U.S. 301 and Interstate 95. Williams calls his book an eccentric history of the state, as seen through powerful personalities that produced Florida’s highway network. Four Florida Roads opens with the origins of native and Spanish trails, then moves on to half of the Pensacola-St. Augustine Road. Williams calls it the Burch-Bellamy Road, 1824 Florida’s first Federal U.S. road. The Tamiami Trail’s epic construction across one of the earth’s largest and oldest swamps connected South Florida’s east and west coasts. In the telling of U.S. 301’s history Williams focuses on Bradford County’s transition from a horse and buggy society into an auto culture. A section on America’s interstate system and Florida-95 ends the 20th Century. The book closes by covering contemporary issues and the future of planning roads and machines to drive over them: solar roads, Electric Vehicles, Autonomous Vehicles and even Autonomous Aeronautical Vehicles.  The history of these four roads form “an eccentric but revealing history of the state.”

Cassadaga: Speaking of the Dead
with Gary Monroe
Saturday, May 18

Author and photographer Gary Monroe was allowed unrestricted access to Cassadaga, the Spiritualist community that was founded in central Florida more than a century ago on the principle of continuous life, the idea that spirits of the dead commune with the living. Though the founders of Cassadaga have passed on to the “spirit plane,” the quaint Victorian town remains the oldest continuously active center of the religion in the South. Gary Monroe’s visual presentation looks at the people, place and practices that exemplify Spiritualism–the Camp’s distinctive architecture, ritual life, core beliefs, séances, and healing work.

A book signing will follow his presentation. This program is a part of the Florida Humanities Council Speaker Series “Weird, Wild, Wonderful Florida.”

Chief Mican’s Revenge
with Gary Gordon
Thursday, June 6

Musician and former Gainesville mayor Gary Gordon will join us to discuss his satirical tale Chief Mican’s Revenge. A book signing will follow his presentation.

Chris Columbus is a developer with a passion to build malls. Appointed “Admiral of the Ocean Prairie” by Governor Job Sparky, he’s all set to create his masterpiece on the vacant land just south of town. What he doesn’t know – what no one knows – is that a Native American tribe has been living, undiscovered, in the woods by the prairie for over 200 years! When Chief Mican’s warrior son shoots Columbus with an arrow, the whole town, the whole country soon finds out, and battle lines are drawn. And, just like Romeo & Juliet, Columbus’s assistant Zebulon Pike has fallen in love with Sarai, the Chief’s daughter! Chief Mican’s Revenge is the dramatic, outrageous, satirical tale of the clash between the Mican Indians, the Columbus-DeLeon Construction Company, and the citizens of Gatorville.