Nature Activity at the Florida Museum of Natural History Sara Marigomen

Nature on Display

The museum has many exhibits on life in the estuaries of Florida. They include immersing a visitor in what it was like to be a native living in the tall grasses and shore areas. Part of the exhibit allows the visitor to walk inside a straw hut that was common in the earlier periods. This kind of attraction seems to be the most effective and creative ways to convey a way of life. Stepping into such an exhibit brings the visitor back to a time. It includes life-sized statues in fashion of what people from that time probably looked at. This kind of display is so close to what it was like with nature right outside your door.

Nature and Ethics

The museum presents many opportunities to “walk through nature” without actually walking through a forest, like the butterfly rainforest or displays that imitate walking through time with sound effects and life-sized attractions. Many of the exhibits in the museum attempt to replicate the actual conditions of nature. Though, sometimes, it is not so successful. The museum, no matter what it changes, will always be a building with man-made exhibits that are simply bubbled copies of nature. The front lobby is like any other building, and the exhibits are where “nature” is. There are restrictions when trying to bring nature to civilization. For example, the frogs are not free nor are the butterflies. They are given as much space as they can. Yet, it still stands that they are confined. Some are left alone and in solitary, like, once again, the frogs. While I was there, a lot of families were in the frog exhibit. Many of the children were excitable about seeing real frogs that close up as the small glass displays allow children to press their noses up without disturbing the frogs. They didn’t think about the restrictions as long as they could spot the frogs that blended in with pseudo-nature. Though, walking through the butterfly garden, it really feels as if you are in the middle of a meadow-like garden that allows you to escape from the building momentarily. That aesthetic pleasureable feeling is what needs to be preserved.

Nature and the Human Spirit

The butterfly garden is the most prime example of literally stepping out of civilization into nature. It is the closest thing to open nature as the museum gets. There is a hush feeling that comes over one as one steps through the two doors into the preserved garden. It’s like stepping out of time into a peaceful atmosphere with silent, gentle creatures.

There is a mystical feeling that one feels when watching the butterflies overhead. The garden and its atmosphere is not something that one experiences every day, especially one that lives in a city area. It’s a novel experience.

It’s beautiful and almost divine, like Heschel tries to convey about the calm of Sabbath.

Nature, in the grand scheme, is so much greater and bigger. Nature, in this setting, is a tranquil contrast, allowing one to suspend time and enjoy the awe-striking butterflies.

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Sara Marigomen
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Sara Marigomen

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