Florida Museum of Natural History by: Jessica Hornyak

Nature on Display

The Butterfly Exhibit immersed me in nature, piqued my curiosity, and displayed vast information on butterflies and the habitats they reside in. This exhibit was particularly appealing to me because since a young age, I have been fascinated by butterflies and even had a collection of them, entomologist style. The walls are covered with various butterfly specimen and the high ceilings further enhance your awe. The butterfly garden is even more remarkable, with its lush greenery and various flora. It is truly a magical experience to see all of the butterflies majestically in flight. I also really enjoyed the butterfly "lab" where they allow you to see the metamorphosis process. Seeing the chrysalis of various specimens allowed me to witness new life in a completely new medium. This really spoke to me because at any point, we can become something new, like a butterfly. It is slightly unclear what triggers a caterpillar to undergo metamorphosis but what we do know is that they emerge something completely brand new, something that looks nothing like the previous state. What I found so enjoyable about the museum is that it removed the barrier between the exhibit and the visitor and allowed you to experience the specimens up close.

Nature and Ethics

Yes, the museum allowed me to experience nature the way that Leopold described. It left me in awe and allowed me to appreciate it up close in addition to being extremely informative. I felt a deep connection to nature and a desire to protect it. I sensed the appreciation of those around me. My thoughts walking through the museum were, "How are we so lucky to live in such a beautiful and diverse world? How could we permit ourselves to be the destroyers of this beauty?".

I noticed that certain exhibits really caught people's eye. The estuary exhibit of larger than life sea creatures was a part that a lot of people seemed to dwell in for an extended period of time. I think this was because it felt as if you were underwater and were placed directly into the estuary as an organism. You were up close with the creatures and I think this made a profound effect. This up close, immersive exhibit allowed people to further connect with nature because they were not separated by glass, but were face to face with nature in a larger than life perspective.

Yes, the museum instilled in me an ethical responsibility to nature. Particularly the photo above instilled in me a desire to protect our fish. Not being a resident of Florida, I did not have prior knowledge on the "net ban" and the ethics behind it. However, after reading the literature that the museum provided I began to have an understanding and form an opinion. Overall, I think we need to focus on minimizing the effects of commercial fishing and boat traffic. I think we also need to develop further efforts to protect our estuaries.

Me enjoying the museum!

Nature and the Human Spirit

The museum helps us to step out of our ordinary lives because it helps to place you in nature you don't encounter on a daily basis here at UF. Yes, UF does an incredible job to encompass the campus in the beautiful Florida landscape but I've found that during my escapades to class, I am solely focused on getting to class and not the nature around me. The museum gently forced you to take in the nature around you and increased your appreciation for it. I absolutely had to take a picture with the Megalodon fossil because I've always been intrigued by this specimen. I can't even fathom the size of this prehistoric shark. As I took this picture jokingly, I thought about how this specimen was so large and made me seem so small. It helped me draw an analogy to nature. Nature is so much bigger than us, yet we act as if we are above it. This helped me realize that in order for us to protect nature, we must overcome our sense of importance and realize issues that are bigger than us. Megalodon is a mystery, for it could still be swimming through our oceans. The museum displayed this fossil majestically and spiked my curiosity. Overall, the museums displays made you dive into aspects you would never discover on your own, which deepens one's appreciation for the natural world.

Credits:

Photo credits to me, Jessica Hornyak.

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