Florida Museum of Natural History AND THE GOOD LIFE

Nature on Display

Me with the first butterfly I saw as we entered the Butterfly Rainforest.

Natural history museums attempt to teach you about nature in a variety of ways, but there is no better way to do this than by actually immersing the visitors in nature itself. While displays, photographs, and descriptions may relay information adequately, allowing visitors to experience nature for themselves will provide a lasting impression. The Butterfly Rainforest left this impression on me. Upon entering the exhibit, I felt immediately relaxed and at peace in the serene "rainforest." I could hear the soft sound of the waterfall as the butterflies and birds flew freely around me. After exploring the exhibit with my friends, we stopped to listen to a museum worker tell us about many different species of butterflies as he released them in to the rainforest. I would not have understood the vast variety of butterfly species that exist if I had not experienced them flying all around me in person – each one was unique and equally as free. The most enjoyable aspect was just being in nature and escaping the busy bustle of campus that I have become accustomed to.

A museum worker releases multiple species of butterflies into the Butterfly Rainforest.

Nature and Ethics

The beautiful, yet declining sea turtles species makes me contemplate nature and ethics.

When I stumbled upon this exhibit that closely resembled a beach, I was reminded of my home (Pensacola Beach). The white sand, sea oats, and blue water were identical to what I see everyday at home; however, reading about the declining of all 7 of the marine turtle species made me more solemn. I have always wanted to see the hatching of baby sea turtles, but knowing that the threats of dredging, pollution, and beach development may eventually make this dream impossible is very concerning. Seeing this exhibit of the hatchlings just beginning life accompanied by the harsh reality that this beautiful species is actually declining allowed me to see Leopold's view that conservation efforts are doomed to fail unless we learn to appreciate the land for more than just its economic value. The way the exhibit made me feel as if I was actually at the beach allowed me to connect with nature and better understand the consequences of economic greed and the disregard of environmental conservation. I definitely felt an ethical responsibility to nature instilled in me after I left the museum.

Nature and the Human Spirit

The fossils of dinosaurs that lived 65 million years ago are some of the greatest mysteries of the natural world.

Stepping into the dinosaur exhibit immediately made me feel "connected to the eternal" as Heschel believes we should. Although there is advanced research that has allowed us a glimpse into how the dinosaurs lived, I still think their existence is one of the greatest mysteries and majesties of the Universe. While we can study fossils and hypothesize about these astonishing creatures, none of us will ever be able to fully understand their existence since we weren't there to experience it ourselves. The museum helped me step out of my ordinary life in this way. We get so caught up in our everyday lives that we forget how powerful the universe is–it wiped out the dinosaurs within a matter of seconds. I think considering this can help us better understand ourselves and what the meaning of life is while appreciating the mystery and majesty of the natural world.

Me and my friend Allie with a larger-than-life dinosaur fossil.
Created By
Savannah Phillips

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