The butterfly rainforest immersed me in an otherworldly experience, where I simply forgot about the exterior world and simply watched the butterflies flutter around my head. The exhibit's design, for example, inevitably summons a gratifying inner peace. Its winding walkway and soothing waterfalls made it seem like I was in the middle of a quiet, tropical rainforest where man had never laid his hands, rather than an inside a museum exhibit. Beyond the waterfalls and walkways, however, the flying butterflies caught my eye, as they fly around people with total tranquility, suckling on nectar and sitting atop plants and hand railings alike. They fly by my head, getting as close as they possibly can without actually making contact. The exhibit showed me that animals and humans can live together harmoniously, as long as humans can embrace nature instead of trying to alter and manipulate it. I enjoyed my time at the museum because of how unexpected the entire ordeal was. I had visualized a simple, boring exhibit with a few pictures and explanations of animals, but I immediately grew surprised at how interactive the exhibit was. The presence of the butterflies kept me engaged, and their different colors inspired me to seek out their names and learn something about them.
The Natural History Museum allowed me to create a momentary bond with nature that encompassed cohesion and unity with my surroundings, just as Leopold asserts. I experienced incredible joy and calmness, listening to the rush of water below me and watching the butterflies gently settle on the lush, green leaves. I thought about the peacefulness that radiated throughout the entire exhibit, realizing that I possessed a lot of pent-up stress that I could just let go of. The other people in the exhibit also looked invaded by a feeling of internal tranquility, sitting on benches and marveling at the butterflies, while others explored the exhibit and took ambitious pictures. The museum itself allowed visitors to conduct their own experience and connect with nature at a personalized level, rather than implementing audio recordings of exhibits, plants and animals that presumptuously try to dictate how a person should feel and think. They provide the ideal platform for people to let their senses and emotions carry them forward. The museum also instilled a sense of obligation in me, not only to restrain myself from wrongfully manipulating nature, as Leopold says, but to connect with nature with greater frequency than I ever have. The effects of nature are soothing to the soul and replenishing to the mind, and we must all work together to maintain nature so it can infuse us with its grace.
The Museum of Natural History helps us step out of the hectic nature and monotonous rhythm of our daily lives. Oftentimes, people become so used to maintaining a rigid routine that they forget to occasionally stray away and enjoy the simple things life has to offer. The museum shows people how to renounce, albeit only temporarily, the responsibilities and commitments that keep us busy, compelling people to pause for a moment and think about the course their life is taking, and the path they may want to take in the future. The Natural History Museum helps us understand that we are mere beings within the realm of nature, that nature encompasses and controls us. Only damage results from man's pursuit of control over nature, and once we settle into its beauty, as the museum allows us to, can we understand our place within the world. The museum places nature in a microcosmic sphere, which nonetheless inspires a subtle sense of majesty that leaves us in surprised awe. Now imagine what the sheer, unweathered power of nature can do.