This exhibit was one I had actually never been to before. I used to volunteer as a plant runner during the butterfly fests at the museum, but I never got the chance to check out the exhibit before Sunday, so this was exciting!
Overall, the space was extremely beautiful. Almost too beautiful. It was obvious that the plants present in the exhibit were not native to central Florida. That being said, such interesting animals were present. Fish the size of my arm were swimming lackadaisically in the bucolic pond spread throughout the exhibit. Birds chirped and hopped away on top of, behind, beneath, and between thickly leaved plants. The raised platform added an element of exoticism, allowing the viewer to look over the edge as a true spectator.
Something I did not know was that butterflies "winter." Like birds, they fly south, for hundreds of miles a day, dependent entirely on instinct and herds, to find just the right place to mate and settle during the cold months. Monarchs actually eat so much on their journey southward that they arrive fatter than when they left their initial home. This really blew my mind.
Honestly, every child, adult, and anyone in between was totally enamoured by the butterfly exhibit. Couples did their dance as babies tried to climb over the railings. We were all experiencing the exhibit together even if we came separately. We learned to "love, respect, and admire" as Leopold would put it. The guides made sure we were super respectful of this space that we were so lucky to be a part of even if for a short time.
As I went through the exam, I felt all the effort these curators, biologists, artists, construction workers, the whole lot - I felt all the effort they put into creating an experience that would make a viewer walk away with an entirely new appreciation for nature.
This window into the butterfly nursery was especially eye-opening. Everyone wanted to stop and see the pupae, caterpillars, and eventual butterflies come to their full grown selves. We all sensed this intimacy with the animals that coexist around us each and every day.
I've always felt an ethical responsibility to protect what has been here before I was even a thought. This exhibit and the museum as a whole definitely inspired me to do more in my everyday life to contribute to conservation and recycling efforts.
The Natural History Museum helped me step out of my ordinary life by simply creating a space I can't find anywhere else. I found this display of fruit especially compelling. The employees cut up fruit for the birds and butterflies to munch on while they go about their days. I was tickled pink by this notion. Fruit is traditionally a human snack. But here we all were, salivating over these grapefruit and bananas, watching little and big insects share this food and space provided by humans.
I definitely grew a deeper appreciation for the mystery and majesty of the natural world in realizing that I am just a part of this whole. This exhibit forced me to re-formulate traditional thoughts of ego and self. The animals featured in the butterfly rain forest were living lives of survival, not worried about GPA or family matters. Survival and sticking together are the top priorities.
Nature and the Human Spirit