When I heard there was a butterfly garden, I knew I had to go visit the Florida Museum of Natural History. Little did I know what I was walking into! The skeleton of a mammoth, life size shark jaws, a frog exhibit, and native Floridian exhibits greeted me from every corner. It was such a fun and energetic experience, and I felt like a child again. This was definitely more hands-on than I thought and a lot more playful, which made the experience so nice!
Nature on Display
I think the shark exhibit had to be my favorite. Growing up near the ocean, I've always loved it and have always been drawn to it. When I saw the sharks teeth, shark jaws, and fisherman's experiences, I knew I had to spend a little extra time in this particular exhibit. I think what really made this exhibit so fun and interactive was the shark jaws you could stand in front of. It was incredible to see just how massive these creatures jaws are and how powerful they are. The table full of sharks teeth was also a really interesting and unique part of this display (pictures below). I think that through this display and the fossils and teeth, I was able to see the huge variation in this species, as well as see how majestic these animals are right down to their bones. It gave me a deeper appreciation for them, as they are often seen as scary and deadly much like in the Jaws movies. This exhibit showed how majestic and grand they are, even though they are intimidating. I think that the shark teeth and fossil of the jaws really added that extra feature that I think really proved to me just how powerful they are, as a species. The museum, in general, was more child-oriented, which allowed for more playful exhibits and hands-on experiences, similar to the shark one, which I think is an ideal aspect in catching people's attention and drawing them into a particular exhibit!
Nature and Ethics
I think Leopold makes an excellent point. We often look past nature and look for material value, rather than experiences and harmony within the land and it's inhabitants. I believe the Florida Natural Museum's exhibits did support Leopold's claim and did show me how to be more harmonious with the land and it's animals, as well as more appreciative of the environment. From displays on the Natives, to tribal communities, to fisheries, and even estuaries, I think the museum really took advantage of showing us how precious our land is and how we must appreciate it. The various exhibits accentuate not just Florida's beauty and grandeur, but also our planet's and our ecosystems. I felt very in-touch with the environment as I walked through the exhibits, and each room led to another with an ecosystem-themed display, which really kept the flow of nature and life throughout the whole museum. I found myself in awe at some of the animals I hardly even notice on a day-to-day basis, which I think is a great thing, because that is what these museums should do; they should invoke a feeling of peace, harmony, and appreciation for the beauty all around us in times when we take things for granted and not give the Earth the delicate and loving treatment it needs. I think the butterfly garden was an extremely beautiful exhibit in this museum that allowed the visitors to really get into nature and experience it for themselves, rather than just observing in front of a glass exhibit. While we couldn't touch the butterflies or plants, they flew around us and bloomed around us, which allowed us to observe the majesty of nature as it is, without human interference. I think before coming to the museum I already had such a deep love and appreciation for nature and the planet, but this museum allowed me to walk out of it feeling re-energized and re-inspired to help create a better environment for not just my future children, but for the future of those non-human inhabitants, as well. It re-opened my eyes to see the beauty in all things, tame or wild. It also emphasized the fact that we should all learn to live in harmony with one another once more.
Nature and the Human Spirit
The Florida Natural History Museum helps us step out of our ordinary lives in a way that's very hard to describe. Coming out of the museum was refreshing and I think part of the reason for that renewed feeling was that the museum's exhibits were so colorful and lively, that stepping back into the real world also seemed colorful and teeming with life, just how the museum's exhibits displayed it to be. The exhibits were all so different. Some showed sharks, underwater ecosystems, estuaries, forests, frogs of all shapes and sizes, butterflies, the natives that once lived in harmony with the land, and exhibits on how to be more environmentally friendly. I think that taking my time through these exhibits, really allowed their beauty to soak in and made me realize that how going from day to day, we lose out appreciation of everyday life. This museum served as a memory refresher and once I stepped outside, everything just seemed so much more vivid and alive, much like how the exhibits inside the museum were. We lose touch with the real world in our daily routines of school, studying, tests, work, etc. When we take a minute to stop and re-learn the beauty of nature and wildlife, we can start our days ahead with feelings of appreciation and wonder, similar to how we viewed the world and environment when we were younger.