Nature on Display: The Butterfly Rainforest exhibit was the most inviting as I saw some interesting species of birds and butterflies. I really enjoyed the environment because although it seemed to be “open,” it was actually enclosed. This made the whole experience more natural and real instead of looking at the insects and animals through a thick piece of glass. I also admired that the atmosphere of the exhibit was “alive.” There were various types of plants, grass and even trees. There was even water that was flowing under a small bridge which set the environment as a rainforest. I was amazed by how real the exhibit was made and how it created a natural setting for the animals. One thing I gained was that I saw how the animals behaved in a natural setting. If they were to be trapped in a glass encasing with little space, my perspective would have been different as they would most likely be resting at one place. Since there was more space in the exhibit and it looked like their natural habitat, it enabled them to behave similarly to if they were to be in a rainforest. I enjoyed the scenery aspect of the exhibit as well as the twists and turns. There were small bridges above rushing waters and there were benches under trees, which created a realistic aspect.
Nature and Ethics: I think some parts of the museum raised ethical concerns when it comes to the natural world. As described above, the butterfly exhibit is in an enclosed environment, but is it ethical to have these insects in an environment that is relatively different than their normal habitat? Another instance this issue arose was near the butterfly exhibit. I saw deceased butterflies that were used as models. They were attached to a glass encasing and labeled according to their species. I also witnessed a lab near the exhibit that contained various types of butterflies in the chrysalis stage. Perhaps, these butterflies were being crossed with other types. However, is it ethical to create new species for the sake of science? I realized that other individuals did not view the exhibit the same way as I did. I saw children and even adults admiring the “objects” inside the glass encasing. They failed to question the reality of the issue. I think there would have been more of a learning experience if nature was not enclosed, but rather able to explore and live as it would in the natural world. Hence, I agree with Leopold in that “we should not view ourselves as conquerors of the land,” rather members of the “biotic community.” So, although, I am grateful for the discoveries in science, I also think there are better alternatives for exploring the world of nature.
Nature and the Human Spirit: The Natural History Museum enabled me to explore the diverse aspects of life as well as the evolutionary aspects. There were many periods of life that highlighted the beginnings of life, some of which I have never even heard of. One instance was the Cretaceous Period which caused the extinction of aquatic life as well as land animals such as dinosaurs. Flowers and mammals were some forms of life that managed to survive and so the Age of Mammals had begun. The exhibit made me appreciate how far all forms of life had come and the catastrophes that Earth had faced before humankind had existed. It makes me admire the powerful being that is our planet. Overall, the museum allowed me to step out of contemporary life and view the beauty of the world. Although there are mysteries of the world that have not been solved/discovered, the beauty is that we have discovered so much, that we will continue to strive to unlock other various mysteries of the world. I agree with Heschel’s philosophy in that we need to take time to appreciate and connect with the eternal and understand the broader aspect of life.