The Matheson History Museum Reopens for Limited Hours Beginning April 2nd

Press release from The Matheson History Museum

The Matheson History Museum is excited to announce that we will be reopening on Friday, April 2, 2021! We will be offering limited hours from 1-4 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

The Matheson has consulted the local and national health guidelines and the operating procedures of other museums, such as the Harn Museum of Art and the Florida Museum of Natural History, when creating this reopening plan. We have implemented new safety procedures to ensure a safe environment for all visitors.

What We Ask of Visitors:

  • Please be patient – this is new for all of us
  • Face coverings that fully cover the mouth and nose at all times are required for all guests over the age of 2. Masks with exhalation valves, bandanas, and neck gaiters are not permitted.
  • Maintain distance of at least 6ft (2m) between your party and other people
  • Sanitize or wash hands frequently

What We are Doing:

  • Limiting capacity to 12 visitors at a time to ensure social distancing
  • Offering hand sanitizer throughout the building as well as bathrooms fully stocked with hand washing supplies
  • Requiring all Matheson staff and volunteers to wear face coverings
  • Cleaning galleries and public spaces regularly

We are offering a limited number of tours of the 1867 Matheson House to no more than 3 people at a time. Please call 352-378-2280 or email curator@mathesonmuseum.org to schedule a house tour.

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Any visitor, including members of that visitor’s party, who fails to follow the Matheson History Museum signage, rules, and instructions, may be denied entry or be required to leave the premises.

Exhibitions on Display

Trailblazers: 150 Years of Alachua County Women

This original exhibition highlights the lives and accomplishments of eleven women from cities throughout Alachua County. We will tell their stories, some for the first time, to call attention to the oft-forgotten contributions of women in our history and in the history of Alachua County. While we are unable to call attention to every woman who has made an impact on the county, these eleven women represent various backgrounds, experiences, and fields of work, all of which are significant to the past and present success of Alachua County. The eleven women featured in the exhibition are:

  • Sarah Hamilton Matheson
  • Sarah Lucretia Robb
  • Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
  • Marjorie Harris Carr
  • Vivian Filer
  • Daphne Duval Williams
  • Judith Brown
  • Margaret Tebeau
  • Clara Floyd Gehan
  • Mary Etta Cubberly
  • Emmaline Buchholz

McCarthy Moment: The Johns Committee in Florida

“Have you ever been engaged in any homosexual activities here in Gainesville?”

This question forever altered dozens of lives at the University of Florida between 1958 and 1959.

In 1956, State Senator Charley Eugene Johns created the Florida Legislative Investigation Committee. Better known as the Johns Committee, it tried to uncover subversive activity in Florida.

Their first target was the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The Committee used Communists as an excuse to prevent integration in public schools. The NAACP’s members and lawyers proved too hard for the Committee to beat. Soon an embarrassed Johns looked for easier victims.

At this time, Americans thought being gay was a shameful mental disorder. It was something to hide and keep secret. It was also illegal in Florida. This secrecy made gay people more vulnerable to the persecution of the Johns Committee. Committee members threatened people with exposure and prison if they did not cooperate. This reign of terror led to dozens of professors and students leaving the university. Although we will never know everyone the Committee hurt, this exhibition seeks to tell their stories.

The McCarthy Moment exhibition does contain sensitive information, including self-harm, sexual acts, and persecution of the LGBTQ+ community. Museum staff is available if any visitor would like more information before entering the exhibition.