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Monday, December 04, 2023

The Matheson History Museum will celebrate the opening of its new Matheson Library & Archives and Mary Ann Cofrin Exhibit Hall on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. This expansion will allow for more exhibition space and preservation and will give history buffs more opportunities to visit the museum.

The museum’s main building at 513 E. University Ave. will remain an exhibition space, while the former library located inside the building, now the Mary Ann Cofrin Exhibit Hall, will become additional exhibition space.

Misty Kar, a 23-year-old UF neurobiological science alumna, said that she’s looking forward to attending the grand opening, as more museum space means more opportunity for her to learn.

“I’m definitely looking forward to seeing some of the future exhibits that will be held there,” Kar said. “I’m excited to learn more about my home state of Florida.”

The Mary Ann Cofrin Exhibit Hall will have the traveling exhibit “Finding the Fountain of Youth: Discovering Florida’s Magical Waters” on display, which examines how the legend of Ponce de Leon’s quest for rejuvenating waters helped shape the Sunshine State’s enticing image.

According to the press release, the museum received a $300,000 grant in July  2015 from the Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources, to preserve and restore the former Gainesville Gospel Tabernacle Church and Melting Pot building at 418 E. University Ave., which was renovated into the Matheson Library & Archives building for visitors and researchers to enjoy.

Casey Wooster, a 25-year-old UF museum studies graduate student, said that as a regular visitor of the museum, she’s excited to attend the grand opening to see firsthand the evolution of the collections from the Matheson Museum to the new Matheson Library & Archives building.

“They have done some amazing work in collecting and preserving Gainesville’s history,” Wooster said.

The entire Matheson History Museum complex will be open to the public allowing residents to explore and donate for the future desegregation and local sports history exhibits. Staff will be available at the Matheson Library & Archives to scan photos or documents that any Gainesville residents are not ready to donate, according to the Matheson Museum website.

“The Matheson Museum cares for its collections in order to ensure that not only the objects, but most importantly, the history of Gainesville is preserved and available for present and future generations of this city,” said Wooster.

The free grand opening of the Matheson Library & Archives and the Mary Ann Cofrin Exhibit Hall will have parking available in the museum’s parking lot, located next to the offices of Attorneys Folds and Walker and the Alachua County Public School’s district office.  

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