My Visit to the Florida Museum of Natural History Samantha Dykes

Me standing in the South Florida People & Environments wing of the FLMNH in front of the model of a Calusa Leader's House

I found the South Florida People and Environments exhibit particularly appealing for several reasons. Firstly, because I have just recently moved to Florida and don’t really know much about its history, (both human and environment). Secondly, and more importantly, because of the way the museum presented its information about the Calusa people who once controlled all of South Florida as well as the Seminole and Miccosukee Native Americans. The physical artifacts of that time period and of these people made the history more tangible for me and I felt that I was learning in a deeper and richer way. It captured my attention because I became immersed in a display. At one point I walked into a model of a Calusa leader’s house. There was a scene of a political ceremony and I felt as if I had been transported through time. It was extremely life like. Simply reading about the Calusa’s way of life would not have given me the same understanding or had as powerful an impact as physically standing there among them. I love learning new things, especially of historical value. Walking through these museum exhibits, interacting with the information on a physical and emotional level was what I found most enjoyable.

Me in the Northwest Florida Waterways & Wildlife Exhibit

I feel that the museum provided me with of an opportunity to experience nature in the way Aldo Leopold recommends in an essay entitled "The Land Ethic," from his book A Sandy County Almanac. Based on his essay, I already considered myself part of group B even before visiting the museum. “Group B prefers natural reproduction on principle. It worries about biotic as well as economic grounds about the loss of species… It worries about whole series of secondary forest functions: wildlife, recreation, watersheds, wilderness areas.” The museum educated me about Florida wildlife and its ecological systems however I did not feel as strong a connection to the land (or “biotic community”) as much as I would have, had I actually been out in Florida’s nature. The other visitors at the museum didn’t seem to feel the connection and importance of land conscience as I did. However having large exhibits about local environments is a step in the right direction. Though as Leopold also posed, education is only part of the issue, and another part is actually acting on these ethical principles. Visiting the museum didn’t instill in me an ethical responsibility to nature as I already felt that way. I found my experience educational and only somewhat inspiring.

Me in the Florida Fossils: Evolution of Life & Land Exhibit

The Florida Natural History Museum helps us step out of our ordinary lives by encouraging us to use our imaginations to picture a world vastly different from the present. In the museum, you become immersed in whatever exhibit you’re visiting. You can use different perspectives when learning new information. Museums are like time capsules, keeping safe the history of the earth and allowing visitors to “travel through time”. The museum has the ability to show people different aspects of the world that they might not have otherwise known about or been able to comprehend. This allows us to appreciate the mysteriousness that is our earth.

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