​​​​​​​The Gulf: The Making of An American Sea

Book Launch 

The launch for Dr. Jack E. Davis's new book, The Gulf: The Making of An American Sea, was recorded by C-SPAN on March 19 and appeared on Book TV. Watch the episode here. Signed copies of The Gulf are available at the Matheson book shop.

River of Lakes:

A Journey on Florida's St. Johns River

Saturday, April 29

4 p.m. – FREE​

Florida Book Award-winning author Bill Belleville gives a multimedia presentation about his book, "River of Lakes: A Journey on Florida's St. Johns River." First explored by naturalist William Bartram in the 1760s, the St. Johns River stretches 310 miles along Florida's east coast, making it the longest river in the state. The first "highway" through the once wild interior of Florida, the St. Johns may appear ordinary, but within its banks are some of the most fascinating natural phenomena and historic mysteries in the state. River of Lakes weaves together the biological, cultural, anthropological, archaeological and ecological aspects of the St. Johns, capturing the essence of its remarkable history and intrinsic value as a natural wonder.

Eat Local Challenge Kickoff and Local Food Fair

Sunday, April 30

1 p.m. - 4 p.m. – FREE​

The tenth annual Eat Local Challenge Community Kickoff and Local Food Fair features local food entrepreneurs, farmers and foodies. This free event will take place on Sunday, April 30, in Sweetwater Park directly behind the museum. 

Demonstrations by local food organizations and entrepreneurs will take place in the park and inside the museum. The Matheson will also be open for visitors to view the current exhibition, "River of Dreams: The St. Johns and Its Springs," which runs through June 24. In addition, the LifeSouth Bloodmobile will be available during the event.

This is the tenth year that Hogtown HomeGrown has supported and promoted the month-long Eat Local Challenge and the third year that an Eat Local event has been hosted by the Matheson. The Eat Local Challenge, first held in May 2008, encourages all of North Central Florida to eat locally grown or produced food at every meal, whether eating at home or in a locally-owned restaurant.

To receive a vendor application, please email Stefanie Samara Hamblen - hogtownhomegrown@gmail.com

Magnesia Springs In Alachua County, Florida:

Then and Now

​Saturday, May 13

2 p.m. – FREE​

Robert F. Moore, a fourth generation Hawthorne resident and member of the Alachua County Historical Commission and President of the Hawthorne Area Historical Society, will discuss his new book, Magnesia Springs In Alachua County: Then and Now. A popular recreation site in the 20th century, Magnesia Springs was once valued for its healing properties. Mr. Moore traces the fascinating history of this Alachua County swimming hole. A book signing will follow his talk.

In John and William Bartram's Wake:

Panel Discussion with Lars Andersen, Sam Carr and Dean Campbell

​Thursday, May 18

6 p.m. – FREE​

Outdoor adventure guide and historian Lars Andersen, and Bartram Trail creators Sam Carr and Dean Campbell will discuss John and William Bartram's historic travels on the St. Johns River and how paddlers and hikers can recreate their journey on Bartram Trails in Putnam County, Alachua County and other areas the Bartrams visited and wrote about over 250 years ago. 

"Lost Springs" Film Screening and Panel Discussion with Matt Keene, Margaret Tolbert, Karen Chadwick and Lisa Rinaman

Friday, June 23

6 p.m. – FREE​

Matt Keene's new documentary, "Lost Springs," chronicles the Ocklawaha River's hidden springs that return to life every three to five years when there is a drawdown at Rodman Reservoir, which--along with the George Kirkpatrick Dam--is part of the defunct Cross Florida Barge Canal. Filmmaker Matt Keene, springs artist Margaret Tolbert, boat captain and environmental activist Karen Chadwick and St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman will share stories about the beautiful lost springs and the fight for their restoration.

Parking is available on the east side of the museum, at the Law Offices of Attorneys Folds & Walker, and the Kirby Smith Administration Building

St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman with Captain Erika Ritter (at right) near the drowned forest of the Ocklawaha during the 2015-2016 Rodman Reservoir drawdown. Photo by Peggy Macdonald.

513 E University Avenue Gainesville FL 32601 US
Hours:      11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., Tuesday - Saturday

The museum also holds special events at night and on the weekends. Please see our events page for updated information. The Matheson History Museum is free and open to the public (donations are encouraged).

Phone: (352) 378-2280


A Hart Line steamer travels along the Ocklawaha River, 1911. Image from the Matheson Postcard Collection.

​​​​​​​​​​River of Dreams:

The St. Johns and its Springs

January 21 - June 24, 2017 - FREE

This original exhibition examines Floridians' past, present and future relationship with the St. Johns River and its springs. Dr. Briley Rasmussen, Director of Museum Studies at the University of Florida, is the lead curator of the exhibition. Guest curators include Dr. Whitney Sanford, Professor of Religion at the University of Florida, and Ms. Florence Turcotte, Literary Collections Archivist at George A. Smathers Libraries. University of Florida museum studies, religion and sustainability graduate and undergraduate students assisted with exhibition research and installation.

The exhibition includes original work by photographers Anne Ledbetter and Bruce Mozert; artifacts from Kingsley Plantation and the Silver Glen Springs shell mound; documents and images on loan from the University of Florida George A. Smathers Library, Special & Area Studies Collections, and the Florida and Puerto Rico Digital Newspaper project; and images of the St. Johns River, Ocklawaha River and Silver Springs from the Matheson's photographic, stereographic and postcard collections. River of Dreams was funded in part by grants from Visit Gainesville, the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and the UF Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere.

UF religion professor Whitney Sanford talks about the spiritual connection people feel to Florida's waters, including the St. Johns and its springs, in the latest issue of Our Town Magazine. According to historian and adventure guide Lars Andersen, the first Floridians considered water sacred.

Current Exhibition

Passengers board a steamer in Palatka, ca. 1900. Image from the Matheson Postcard Collection.

Artist Margaret Tolbert paints Cannon Springs on the Ocklawaha River during the 2015-2016 Rodman Reservoir drawdown. Photo by Karen Chadwick.

The Matheson History Museum's exhibitions and programs are supported in part by funding from Visit Gainesville and the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.

"St. Johns River, Florida," detail. Date unknown. Image from the Matheson Stereographic Collection.