Nature on Display
In the museum's butterfly garden, I had an extraordinarily peaceful experience that helped reconnect me with the beauty of nature. The exhibit is designed to obscure much of the view of the outside world, thereby bringing my focus solely on the flora and fauna surrounding me. I was able to sit and quietly observe the butterflies around me in the flowers; this led me to completely let go of any stress I had been feeling. The exhibit allowed me to move at my own pace and view things from whatever perspective I wanted. The inclusion of actual life, not artificial plants and rubber butterflies, made the experience completely authentic. There was always something to look at, and the quiet environment made me feel like I could appreciate things in my own way. Unlike much of the other exhibits, the reality of this area of the museum made it very impactful and enjoyable.
Nature and Ethics
This recreation of a Floridian Native American tribe made me consider the way in which Native Americans lived as a part of the natural world. On the other hand, modern humans are less a part of the natural world as we are a destructive force to it. On display were a wide variety of tools and clothing that were formed from materials such as animal bone and pelt. These natives used nature for its necessities, but did not extract materials superfluously for any kind of financial gain. This subsistence-based, conservationist lifestyle is vastly different from the materialistic, frivolous consumerism that is commonplace today. There were many exhibits pertaining to how humanity affected the natural world, and this one in particular stuck out to me because it showed that humans could live happily without ravaging our environment. Seeing how native tribes lived and seeing all the natural beauty and history here in Florida made me and my friends reflect on how precious our natural world is, and also how fragile it can be. It is the ethical responsibility of humanity, especially my generation, to preserve the environment.
Nature and the Human Spirit
Through out the museum, especially in this aquatic-themed exhibit, the museum led me to see the natural world in a new way. For this particular exhibit, that new perspective was very literal. Immersed in subaquatic blue lighting, I was able to observe larger-than-life sea creatures from the point of view of perhaps a small fish. Typically, I can't see much underwater, and what I have seen underwater have been small creatures that I don't think much of. Here, I was forced to consider the complexity of life forms I usually don't consider. Throughout the museum, I took a closer look at things as simple as mangroves or butterflies that can be found all throughout Florida, but can only be truly appreciated for their majesty and mystery on closer observation. These new perspectives helped me to more deeply appreciate the nature that surrounds me daily.
All photos taken by Wilson Erickson