Current Exhibits

Gators and Beyond: A Sports History of Alachua County

August 8, 2018 – February 16, 2019

Main Exhibit Hall

From the earliest days of the East Florida Seminary up to today when the Gators dominate, sports have always been part of the fabric of Alachua County. However, there is more to the story than just the University of Florida. Gators and Beyond: A Sports History of Alachua County, examines lesser known sports teams like the G-Men baseball team and the Fighting Terriers of Lincoln High School alongside stories like the first female cheerleader at UF.

This exhibit was made possible by a gift from Rick and Barbara Anderson.

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) – Mebane High School football team, 1956 or 57 – courtesy of the Matheson History Museum collection

Upcoming Programs

Here is Home: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Cross Creek
Documentary Premiere
with Sonya Doctorian and Ann McCutchan
Friday, October 12

The Matheson History Museum and Friends of the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Farm are hosting the premiere of the documentary Here is Home: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Cross Creek at the Matheson. The film was created by documentary filmmaker Sonya Doctorian and produced under a grant from the Florida Humanities Council. The evening will include a viewing of the documentary, a discussion by the director of her methods, as well as highlights of video interviews with Cross Creek residents who share their 1930s and ’40s memories of their neighbor, Mrs. Rawlings. Ann McCutchan, author of the soon-to-be released biography of Rawlings, The Life She Wished to Live: A Biography of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, author of “The Yearling,”, will also be in attendance to share about her research.

In the short documentary, Here Is Home, neighbors fondly remember their good friend and famous author. Rawlings moved from Rochester, New York, to rural north Florida in 1928 to carve out a new life as a writer and citrus grove owner. Soon she realized her best material was the natural world around her and the people who eked out a living there. Her first work featuring Florida’s Crackers was published in Scribner’s Magazine in 1931, leading to many more stories, three novels, and a nonfiction chronicle about Cross Creek, the hamlet she called home. Rawlings’s most notable novel, The Yearling, was the poignant tale of a boy and his pet fawn, set in 1870s frontier Florida; it cemented her position as the finest literary interpreter of the state’s backwoods culture and environment. Awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1939, The Yearling was translated into more than 25 languages and made into an Oscar-winning movie.

Wrestling Alligators: The New Seminole Wars documentary screening
with Peter B. Gallagher
Saturday, October 13

We are honored to welcome journalist and historian Peter B. Gallagher to host a screening of the documentary Wrestling Alligators: The New Seminole Wars.

Directed by Andrew Shea and released in 2016, Wrestling Alligators follows the life of Chief Jim Billie and his impact on the future of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The greatest change to happen to Native Americans in the last 50 years is the creation of legalized gaming on Indian reservations, a revolution that has made self-reliance a reality for many tribes. James E. Billie, the man responsible for this revolution, born an outcast in the Florida swamps, is an alligator wrestler, warrior, poet, and leader of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. He took his people from welfare subsistence at the mercy of the federal government to being wealthy beyond their wildest imaginings. Controversial both inside and outside his tribe, James Billie has used his charm and wits to beat the white man, time and again, at their own game. Now, faced with new battles, James and his tribe once again find their way of life challenged.

The Origins of Football in Gainesville
with Fred Awbrey
Thursday, October 18

Fred Awbrey, Gainesville native and local sports historian, will share on the origins of football in the area. His years of research are the basis of the Matheson’s current exhibition, “Gators and Beyond: A Sports History of Alachua County.” He was concerned with the lack of information on local sports history and decided to do something about it. He turned a hobby into a passion and has researched everything from Gainesville High School, to Lincoln High School, to the Gainesville G-Men baseball team, and so much more!

Matheson Antique, Vintage Floridiana, and Rare Book Sale
Saturday, October 20
Suggested donation of $3 for adults (paid at the door)
Children – free

We are excited to host the annual Antique, Vintage Floridiana, and Rare Book Sale! This event is open to the public and will feature vendors from all over Florida There is a suggested donation of $3 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.

Be sure to wear your favorite Floridiana-inspired outfit!

Halloween Moon Rising
An Immersive Theatre Experince
with Kelby Siddons and Y-Not Theatre
Thurday, October 25
Friday, October 26
7pm – $50 in advance, $60 the week of the show

The Matheson and Y-Not Theatre are offering a one-of-a-kind immersive theatre experience on Thursday, October 25, and Friday, October 26, at 7pm at the Matheson. Halloween Moon Rising by Kelby Siddons begins when audience members get out of their car. The play begins on the porch of the 1867 Matheson House and moves through three different acts in different settings. Audience members must be 21; themed food and drinks will be part of the experience.

Due to the immersive nature of the play only 30 tickets are available for each show. Tickets are $50 in advance and $60 the week of the show. You can purchase your ticket online via Eventbrite by clicking here or you can pay cash or check in advance at the museum (513 East University Avenue)

This author’s just arrived and though she doesn’t know it yet, to cross the creek on Mischief Night could be her last regret…

Founding Families Gala
Friday, November 2
$250 per ticket

Founding Families, a fundraiser gala, will take place at the Matheson History Museum. We will honor families who contributed unique and important firsts to the history of Gainesville and Alachua County, including Heisman Trophy winner Steve Spurrier who coached the University of Florida Gators to their first national football championship. Coach Spurrier will give the keynote address.

The evening will include cocktails, dinner featuring dishes inspired by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’s book Cross Creek Cookery, and a silent auction. Dinner will be served inside the museum. Black tie is optional.

Tickets for this unique fundraiser are $250 and can be purchased via Eventbrite. Due to the state’s dramatic slash in funding for the arts and cultural organizations, this fundraiser is more important than ever for the Matheson. Proceeds from ticket sales, sponsorships and a silent auction will go towards the museum’s future exhibitions and programs, collections care, and maintenance of the Matheson History Museum Complex, which includes the museum, 1867 Matheson House, Matheson Library & Archives and Tison Tool Barn.

Founding Families is a Talia Felicia Events + Design production.

Hometown Teams: Florida Sports History
with Steve Noll
Thursday, November 8

Sports offer a window into Florida’s social and political life and provide a source of pride for localities large and small throughout the state. Dr. Noll’s presentation examines the history of sport in Florida and places it at the foreground of racial and gender issues in the state. It also examines the rise of sports as big business, and how millions of Floridians tie their identity to their local team. Dr. Noll doesn’t forget about the fun aspects of Florida sports- from participation to spectators— from Super Bowl to pickleball.

This program is a part of the Florida Humanities Speaker Series “Weird, Wild, Wonderful Florida.”

“American River: Confluence” Book Launch
with Mallory M. O’Connor
Friday, November 9

We are honored to host the launch of award-winning author Mallory O’Connor’s latest novel, American River: Confluence. A book signing will follow her presentation.

American River: Confluence, the third book of the American River Trilogy, is the culmination of a compelling historical drama about the lives, loves, triumphs and sacrifices of the descendants of three immigrant families who settled along California’s American River, and who are called upon to put aside a decade full of grievances and betrayals to save the history and legacy of their ancestral home, Mockingbird Valley Ranch.

The Second Seminole War and the Limits of American Aggression
with C.S. “Chris” Monaco
Saturday,  November 10

The Matheson and the Friends of Payne Prairie are honored to host historian and author, C.S. “Chris” Monaco to discuss his latest book, The Second Seminole War and the Limits of American Aggression.

The Second Seminole War (1835–1842) was the last major conflict fought on American soil before the Civil War. The early battlefield success of the Seminoles unnerved US generals, who worried it would spark a rebellion among Indians newly displaced by President Andrew Jackson’s removal policies. The presence of black warriors among the Seminoles also agitated southerners wary of slave revolt. A lack of decisive victories and a series of bad decisions—among them the capture of Seminole leader Osceola while under the white flag of truce—damaged the US army’s reputation at home and abroad. Desertion was rampant as troops contended with the subtropical Florida wilderness and deadly malaria epidemics. Losses for the Seminoles were devastating; by the war’s end, only a few hundred remained in Florida.

In his ambitious study, The Second Seminole War and the Limits of American Aggression, C. S. Monaco explores the far-reaching repercussions of this bloody, expensive campaign. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, Monaco not only places this protracted conflict within a military context but also engages the various environmental, medical, and social aspects to uncover the war’s true significance and complexity.