The Florida Museum of Natural History starts strong with the skeleton of a mammoth displayed prominantly out front. I know this mammoth well, as I've been visiting it since I was little. This museum is small, but it's clear that care has been pounded into every exhibit. Walking from room to room, the air changes witht the sounds as they try to immerse you in their world -- whether a tribe of Indians, or the bottom of the ocean. It's exactly the kindo of museum Florida deserves.
Nature on Display
Now, I know what you're thinking. "There's a BUTTERFLY EXHIBIT, why did you choose some lousy swamp for your nature to display?" I've lived in Florida my whole life, and I've travelled its many ecosystems. This, the cypress swamp exhibit, better represents Florida than any other exhibit I've seen. Taken straight from the Choctahatchee or Suwannee rivers, this exhibit works hard to show the beauty of Florida nature in its entirety -- not some touristy beach, not some gimmicky butterfly forest, but the harsh beauty of the swamp. This is the Florida that I've spent so much time in. The Florida that you have to work to get to. The Florida that hides its beauty -- only to reveal it to those who are willing to work to find it.
Nature and Ethics
The "Biological and Cultural Corridor" is the name of the exhibit above. Its a freeze frame of a world that existed long ago, but not as long ago as we think, of a people who were too small in number to change the world. It's a people who live in the world, rather than decide what world they should live in. We have since entered a great era of human control -- great and terrifying. Never before have we had so much power and responsibility to preserving this blue marble, and sometimes we forget where we really stand. But this exhibit helps remind us that we are not gods, but people, as we've always been, and it is our duty and necessity to protect the world that made us.
Nature and the Human Spirit
This is a photo of the "Barrier Islands" exhibit. It is curved so that you can forget that you are staring at a mural. Ocean sounds are playing, and the whole thing is set off a little from the rest. It's an interesting choice to include the Barrier Islands in a museum, considering that they by nature have no history. The islands are ever-changing. Rising from and then sinking back into the waves. They are an entire world unto themselves -- the creatures that live on them are nomads that island hop for eternity. They are different from everything about our lives, but to sit in this exhibit and let them envelop you for a minute -- you can almost understand it. The way we live has changed rapidly in the last century, but still we forget and start believing that there is such a thing as a 'normal' way to live. But immersing yourself in this exhibit is a reminder that there's no such thing. There is only existence -- wherever and whenever it happens.