The Florida Museum of Natural History By Alex Story

Nature on Display

One of the many exhibits that I found to be particularly enjoyable was an area designed to give the observer a perspective of a very small fish or aquatic organism in their environment. This display magnified the actual size of the organic structures and organisms that would be found in a body of water in Florida, and made it seem as though you were swimming among the fish. This seemingly simple exhibit gave me a profound perspective on the actual visual components of a fish's environment, and an idea of what its surroundings would look like. We often hear of seeing something through a "bird's eye view", but the view of a fish is something much more rare and interesting. The exhibit was able to capture my attention in this way, and proved to be a viable medium in producing interest in the habitat of fish.

Nature and Ethics

Prior to my visit to the museum, I took many classes centered around conservation and the sheer vital nature of our environment, one of these classes was called environmental ethics. In this class, we read many of Leopold's works and studied them closely, and as a result, I gained an important understanding of our dire need to respect the land on which we live and depend on. A break from our anthropocentric views is desperately needed to conserve our precious environment and halt our destructive tendencies. My time at the museum reinforced these views, as I traveled deeper into the building, and further into the native american exhibits, I could sense a very different culture, that I was almost envious of. In native American culture, including the tribe that was once settled in the Gainesville area, the gods were nearly synonymous with the land and the natural processes of the Earth. The Native Americans seemed to realize the important role nature plays in our lives, and that nature is in fact life itself. The exhibits outlining the daily life of the Native Floridians depicted their more simple and biocentric lifestyle in all that they did up until they were exterminated by European settlers.

Nature and the Human Spirit

The mystery and majesty of nature is beautifully evident in nearly every exhibit the museum has to offer, but perhaps the most powerful of these that I came across were the many displays of Native American Life, as well as all of the exhibits that were able to vividly depict the lives and nature of other species living in our shared world. The museum helped me to step out of my ordinary life, even if for just a moment, by opening up my mind to alternate perspectives which I previously never would have bothered to consider, such as the fish, or the Native American tribes, or even the ancient rocks and minerals on display. The museum of natural history allows us to break from our traditional and confined perspectives, and view the world from alternative outlets. This is an extremely important task, as it urges mankind to be more conscious of their actions and possible impacts on the living environment aside from themselves. To appreciate the majesty and mystery of the natural world goes hand and hand in developing a more respectful outlook on nature, and will lead to better treatment of the Earth for generations to come.

Credits:

All photos taken by myself.

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