The modern Mandarin Museum, provides 1210 sq. ft. of exhibit space, 230 sq. ft. of collection storage space, and 150 sq. ft. of administrative office space and a Gift Shop featuring books written by and about local people as well as art prints from Mandarin artists. Here our permanent and temporary exhibits depict various aspects of Mandarin’s unique history along the St. Johns River through interactive exhibits.
The first point of interest is a timeline of events from Mandarin’s beginnings as a Timucuan village to modern times.
The second area portrays the wreck and excavation of the Union steamboat Maple Leaf, which sank off Mandarin Point in 1864. The shipwreck site is a significant archaeological find and the only National Historic Landmark in Duval County until 2016. The exhibit displays artifacts recovered from the wreck as well as explanations about the techniques in their recovery. Elements include a handcrafted ship model, biographies of some of the people involved, interactive maps, and an interactive educational display where visitors can experience what the excavation process would have been like in the murky waters of the St. Johns River.
The third exhibit highlights the famed author and abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wintered in Mandarin from 1867 to 1884. Visitors can reflect upon her life and her impact on the Mandarin community.
The Mandarin Museum also has a rotating gallery that exhibits both modern and past artists who lived in or were inspired by the Mandarin community. Featured artists in 2017 include John Kenning, Gary Garrett, Bruno Alberts and Mary Atwood.
A special World War I exhibit and book honoring Mandarin resident, Marion Joseph Losco opened on June 3, 2017 and will be up until Armistice Day, November 11, 2018 – the 100th anniversary of theend of World War I. Pvt. Losco, a local farmer and son of Frank and Dometilla Losco (Losco Winery), was drafted, went to France and was killed two weeks after his 25th birthday in August 1918. His mother saved all of his letters and correspondence from the Army. This book and exhibit are based on these items, but also include some vintage artifacts on loan from a military collector.
Right next to the Mandarin Museum is the 1898 St. Joseph’s Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children. This historic building was once located on the property of present-day St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and was used by the Sisters of St. Joseph for educating black children in Mandarin. Their mission began in 1868 when the first Sister came to Mandarin. This museum features the story of the courageous French Sisters as well as the stories of Mandarin during the post-Civil War period. Highlights include a map that demonstrates locations of similar educational efforts in the south side of Jacksonville after the Civil War as well as information that focuses on the thirst for knowledge that existed in the black population in Mandarin when this schoolhouse existed.
And, Mandarin Frogs are only available at the Mandarin Museum Gift Shop. These fanciful frogs have put a smile on many a face, just like the “Frog Man” hoped they would. He is now a folk artist and the frogs are a special Mandarin treat! Thank you to the “Frog Man” who makes these concrete creatures 1 frog at a time and donates every penny to support the programs and of Mandarin Museum.
Mandarin Museum and the schoolhouse are open every Saturday from 9-4.