Florida Museum of Natural History Taylor Hadden

Introduction

I visited the Florida Museum of Natural History on a Sunday afternoon while the sun gleamed and a beautiful breeze rolled through campus. As I entered the museum, I was taken aback by the wide array of colors, textures and interactive displays on view for patrons. On spectacle was a tucked away gift shop, a discovery room and a preview to the Northwest Florida Waterways and Wildlife exhibit. The museum was incredibly busy and full of life that Sunday: patrons awaited in line to purchase their tickets and assimilate themselves into the wonderful world the Florida Museum of Natural History. As I received my ticket, I exuberantly walked into the impressive exhibit.

The Florida Museum of Natural History, The University of Florida. By: Meghan Lowry

Nature on Display

I believe that the Northwest Florida Waterways and Wildlife exhibit was most appealing and immersive in terms of presenting nature and wildlife. I found the layout of this exhibit to be most appealing because it incorporated engaging elements that fully encompassed patrons. My favorite elements included the Columbian Mammoth and the scenic sky landscape suspended from the ceiling. These elements allowed for a mesmerizing experience that enveloped patrons in the landscape. Since the Northwest Florida Waterways and Wildlife exhibit is the first exhibition presented to museum goers, it must be alluring and captivating. The Florida Museum of Natural history achieved this goal tactfully. The exhibit initially grasped my attention the moment I awaited in line: catching a glimpse of the giant Columbian Mammoth habituating the room. The moment I gained access to the exhibit, I walked up to the Mammoth and perceived both its hulking stature and the impressive facts on placards.

The Florida Museum of Natural History, The University of Florida. By: Meghan Lowry

In this exhibit I learned several valuable facts about our natural world. Not only did I learn of the gigantic creature that once abided Florida's terrain, but I learned that Florida's changing climate has impacted our health and water. Climate change, spurred by global warming, may burden Florida's growing seasons and effect ranges of allergy-causing plants. This means certain crops won't grow as abundantly as they did years ago and allergy sufferers may experience longer allergy seasons. In regards to water, climate change is rising coastal sea levels and altering fresh water quality inland. Therefore, groundwater resources become soiled and runoff water increases whilst carrying large numbers of pathogens. This information was showcased on placards with pictures and engaging graphics. This information could have been presented in a different manner, but I enjoyed visualizing and reading this information in this straight-forward manner. Also being surrounded in a beautiful bright room with sun shinning through the windows made the experience feel attuned with nature.

The Florida Museum of Natural History, The University of Florida. By: Meghan Lowry

The experience at the Florida Museum of Natural Museum I found to be most enjoyable was the eye-opening knowledge the Northwest Florida Waterways and Wildlife exhibit exposed its patrons too. I appreciated this exhibit because it was unapologetic and uninhibited in how it presented the issue of climate change. They made is clear that climate change is a serious issue that intensely impacts the Florida landscape and wildlife. I also enjoyed accompanying a friend because this allowed us to have a productive and educated discussion on the issues discussed in this exhibit.

Nature and Ethics

In regards to Leopold's views on appreciating the land for more than its economic value, the South Florida People and Environments exhibit helped to successfully capture this ideology. This exhibit not only celebrates the stories of the native people in South Florida, but celebrates the environments that supported and helped life to thrive for thousands of years. This exhibit goes to show that people and nature can coexist beneficially with one another. Leopold calls on us to “love, respect, and admire” the land, and the South Florida People and Environments allows patrons to see this former habitat through Leopold's lens.

I felt very engaged as I walked though this exhibit due to how the Florida Museum of Natural History so flawlessly intertwined physical representations of these animals with important, call-to-action facts and figures. I derived a sense of respect for these Floridian landscapes and wildlife habitats - how they've developed and interacted with one another. I also felt a sense of celebration for the culture and life in these areas of South Florida. I thought how lucky I was to be living in a state where a multitude of diverse life both flourishes and exists. On the same thought, I felt a sense of urgency and responsibility to take care and maintain these natural environments and animals. I believe that other people felt the same after seeing this exhibit. My friend and I shared very similiar thoughts and opinions, quickly engaging in a very productive conversation about the issue.

The South Florida People and Environments exhibit allowed for patrons to connect with the attractions by providing visualizations of its wildlife and natural surroundings. This truly immersed visitors in the world of South Florida. For example, the Birds and Beaches section provided models of the birds, supplied facts as to how they build nests and included how scientists are continuing to learn more about ancient bird species. Also, the Sea Turtles section provided figures of different turtle species and supplied information on how humans impact their migration cycles. Being able to see models of these real animals made the issues feel incredibly real and crucial. I left the exhibit with desires to be proactive in the future - I want to help by limiting my possible stresses to their environments. I felt incredibly ethically responsible.

The Florida Museum of Natural History, The University of Florida. By: Taylor Hadden

Nature and the Human Spirit

To properly exhibit and reflect Heschel's statement, I believe that experiencing the Butterfly Rainforest helped to visualize the hidden mystery and majesty of our natural world. The Butterfly Rainforest allowed me to truly step out of my comfort zone and better appreciate the beauty our planet offers. At first, I found myself frightened of the grandoise, brightly-hued creatures fluttering about the screen-enclosed sanctuary. How could such tiny, harmless insects allow me to feel fear? Despite my initial anxieties, I realized that my fears were unnecessary the longer I stayed inside of the Butterfly Rainforest. I finally started to relax inside of the sanctuary and perceive the true beauty fluttering around me. Not only was there a multitude of exotic butterflies gracefully hovering inside the enclosure, but there were lavish numbers of tropical plants and several fountains scattered about the area. In this moment, I tapped into nature and lived within the moment. My fears entirely dissipated, and I began to truly respect the magnificence that occupies our natural world. I really felt one with the nature surrounding me and tapped into its mysteries.

The Florida Museum of Natural History, The University of Florida. By: Taylor Hadden

Another exhibit that reflects Heschel's statement was the Northwest Florida Waterways and Wildlife exhibit. The aspects that truly amazed me were the large Columbian Mammoth and the sky elements overhanging the exhibit. The Columbian Mammoth, not only impressive in stature, accompanied several facts on placards. One of the plaques stated that mammoths co-inhabitied Florida with the first humans over twelve-thousand years ago. This statement made me realize that not long ago, both living beings were forced to live amongst one another. Therefore, in that small fraction of time our society has come incredibly far, yet at what cost to our environment and wildlife? The other aspect that caused me to step out of the bounds of my ordinary life was the overhanging sky elements. As the sunlight gleamed through the glass panels, it hit the sky structures hanging above the exhibit. The structures were created in waves that had a scenic blue sky printed on them. This piece of art, although easily over-looked, was my favorite element to the exhibit. It caused me to have a newfound appreciation for the sky and grow incredibly introspective in thought over the mystery and beauty surrounding our atmosphere.

The Florida Museum of Natural History, The University of Florida. By: Taylor Hadden

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