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.

Featured image – Gainesville High School cheerleaders, 1971 Hurricane

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

Tacky Tourist Party
Amazing Give Kick-Off
Wednesday, March 21
$25/person (food and drink included)

Wear your best tacky tourist costume and help us kick-off the 24-hour Amazing Give fundraiser! The evening will include a costume contest, Florida-themed food and drink, photo booth, and Florida trivia challenge. Dig out your fanny packs and Hawaiian-print shirts and join us!

The Sweetwater Branch Inn has donated an amazing prize for the winner of the costume contest! The prize package includes a one night’s accommodations and a romantic dinner for two. Don’t miss out on a getaway in historic downtown Gainesville!

Tickets can be purchased online by clicking here or by mailing your check to the museum at 513 East University Avenue, Gainesville FL, 32601.

What’s The Amazing Give?
The Amazing Give will take place from 6pm March 21 to 6pm March 22 and will raise money for local nonprofits through a single online donation platform, providing a simple way to connect donors to the charitable causes they care about most and encourage them to take action. This 24-hour online fundraising effort hosted by the Community Foundation of North Central Florida with the help of sponsors, will offer our area of nonprofits the chance to raise funds to support their critical missions.

Lost Springs Returns to the Matheson!
with Karen Chadwick, Peggy Macdonald, and Margaret Tolbert
Monday, March 26

This unique program will include a screening of the final version of Matt Keene’s documentary, “Lost Springs,” and a celebration honoring the 103rd anniversary of environmentalist Marjorie Harris Carr’s birth. In 2017, the Matheson offered a screening of an earlier version of the documentary.

“Lost Springs” chronicles Gainesville artist Margaret Tolbert’s abstract expressionist paintings of the lost springs of the Ocklawaha River. Longtime Florida Defenders of the Environment President Marjorie Harris Carr fought for decades to preserve and restore the Ocklawaha River, but she was unable to see it run free before her death in 1997. Today, the river remains dammed as part of the defunct Cross Florida Barge Canal. Every three to five years, when the water levels are lowered at the artificially managed Rodman Pool near George Kirkpatrick Dam, the springs along the Ocklawaha River come back to life for a short period of time before they are flooded again when the water levels are raised.

The March 26 screening at the Matheson marks the public release of the documentary online as a birthday present for Marjorie Harris Carr. A discussion of the lost springs and Marjorie Carr’s environmental legacy will follow the film screening.

Florida Soul: From Ray Charles to KC and the Sunshine Band
with John Capouya
Friday, April 13

Born in the era of segregation with origins in gospel, rhythm and blues, and jazz and reaching maturity during the civil rights movement, soul music is still enjoyed today and is still very much a part of our collective culture. Author John Capouya draws on extensive interviews with surviving musicians to re-create the excitement and honor the achievements of soul’s golden age, establishing Florida as one of the great soul music capitals of the United States. His book, Florida Soul: From Ray Charles to KC and the Sunshine Band, explores the story of Ray Charles’s musical upbringing in Florida, highlights the careers of Pensacola singers James and Bobby Purify and their producer, Papa Don Schroeder, reveals how Hank Ballard created his international hit song “The Twist” after seeing the dance in Tampa, and profiles Gainesville singer Linda Lyndell (“What a Man”), to name a few.

The Matheson is excited to welcome John Capouya to share about this important history. A book signing will follow his presentation.

Living Sustainably: What Intentional Communities Can Teach Us about Democracy, Simplicity, and Nonviolence
with A. Whitney Sanford
Thursday, April 26

We are honored to host the launch of A. Whitney Sanford’s latest book, Living Sustainably: What Intentional Communities Can Teach Us about Democracy, Simplicity, and Nonviolence. A book signing will follow her presentation.

Over the course of four years, A. Whitney Sanford visited ecovillages, cohousing communities, and Catholic worker houses and farms where individuals are striving to “be the change they wish to see in the world.” In her book, Living Sustainably, she reveals the solutions that these communities have devised for sustainable living while highlighting the specific choices and adaptations they have made to accommodate local context and geography. She examines their methods of reviving and adapting traditional agrarian skills, testing alternate building materials for their homes, and developing local governments that balance group needs and individual autonomy. Living Sustainably is a teachable testament to the idea that new cultures based on justice and sustainability can be cultivated in many ways and in countless homes and communities. Sanford’s engaging and insightful work demonstrates that citizens can make a conscious effort to subsist in a more balanced, harmonious world.