Good Life Nature Activity at FLMNH By Nikki Rutkowski

An Introduction to the Florida Museum of natural history

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I embarked with three friends for a few hours of wandering around the Florida Museum of Natural History. While some of us were excited for the Butterfly Exhibit and others looking forward to the new Frog Wing, none truly knew what to expect from our trip. As we perused the wings and exhibits, we could not help but feel more connected to our own history as organisms living on Earth. The perspective we found through our journey made us more appreciative and in awe of our surroundings than ever before.

Nature on Display

One of my favorite exhibits at the Florida Museum of Natural History was thecave exhibit. I was immediately drawn from the lobby into this exhibit, intrigued by the interesting lighting and realistically replicated architecture of actual caves. The experience itself felt so authentic, from the scenery to the audio clips, the museum did a great job of transporting you into a cave. There were a lot of informational panels around the area, I felt far more engaged with the information because it did not feel abstract - the limestone formations and deposits, the casual cave dwellers, even the sound of acidic water dripping into the caves to corrode the limestone was visually reinforced through the experience. I was even able to "explore" the caves through a series of tunnels. It made learning about caves, a common structure throughout my home state of Florida, feel more like fun than work.

nature and ethics

Love, respect, and admiration were easily found in the museum's butterfly exhibit. From the moment you walk through the wind-blasted doors into the exhibit, you are struck by the beauty of your surroundings and the grace of the butterflies all around you. The exhibit transported me outside of Gainesville into a world of solitude and peace and allure. The exhibit takes you out of your own perspective for a moment to open your eyes; it forces you to take a second and appreciate how beautiful nature can be. The area was quite quiet, everyone was peacefully admiring the butterflies and the lush quality of the exhibit. It was by far the most impactful exhibit I was fortunate enough to experience. The others were very informative, even fun and interactive, but in no other exhibit did a hush fall over the room, in no other exhibit did people look so peaceful and calm, so happy and relaxed. If you do not go out of your way to connect with nature and surround yourself in it, you can easily loose touch with it. My personal moral obligations had faded immensely since coming to college. While Gainesville is a beautiful place, I had not been as exposed to the natural beauty the world has to offer quite like the Butterfly Exhibit. Reconnecting with the scenery and the wildlife made the connection much deeper and more personal, re-instilling that moral duty to protect my community's natural qualities and all of the beauty that comes with it.

Nature and the Human Spirit

To understand who we are, it is important to go back to where our kind began. I was immediately drawn to the displays that demonstrated the evolution of Earth's landmasses. All around the room, different globes were placed, outlining how the earth looked 2, 5, even 10 million years ago. With each couple million years, earth's surface moved and shifted, leading to major changes in the ecostystem and all of those living in it. Watching my planet evolve in a sense took me out of my everyday life and gave me a much needed sense of perspective. Every shift and change was a result of random sequences of events, and each one had huge effects on the world we live in today. To realize how arbitrary our entire existence really is in the grand scheme of things was not only a wakeup call, but also a glance into the rich history of the planet we call our home. How we got lucky enough to where all of those random events fell into place exactly the way they did, no one will ever truly understand. I became more aware of the majesty and mystique of our world, and while the logical elements of how we came to be were presented, I feel even more intrigued and mystified regarding the world around me.

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