A Day at the Natural History Museum By Nick RUnde

Nature on Display: The Natural History Museum blew me away with many beautiful and educational displays on a wide variety of topics. Displays of prehistoric animal fossils were very interesting, and helped put into perspective just how long there has been life on Earth. The butterfly cage was particularly breath taking not only because of the wide variety of butterflies, but also because of the beautiful trees, shrubs, and streams. This was appealing to me because I could hardly notice that I was in a cage; it felt much more as if I were walking through a park in the forest. Something that really captured me was the variety of colors I saw, which ranged from green to yellow to blue to black. Something I learned in the butterfly cage that I wouldn't be able to learn in a book or on the internet would be how to correctly identify different species of butterflies in real life. The cage provided field guides with pictures of every butterfly species in the cage, so we could match the butterflies with their pictures. Overall, I think the reason this museum was so enjoyable was because it was such a different way to obtain knowledge. Almost all of my knowledge obtained at UF has been through lectures, books, or the internet, so to learn about nature by being this close to it was very refreshing and enjoyable.

Blue morpho butterflies are brown on the bottom of their wings and blue on the top. (Natural History Museum Butterfly Cage).

Nature and Ethics: The Natural History Museum helped me realize that humans are just one species on a planet that is full of complex ecosystems containing animals, plants, fungi, etc. These exhibits showed me that these ecosystems are beautiful and it would be detrimental to humanity to destroy them because they are more useful than one may originally think. In these ways, I do think we are all part of a "biotic community" as said by Leopold. As I traveled through the various exhibits in the museum, I noticed all of the life that has come before me, and before humans. Animals like giant sloths, mammoths, and dinosaurs all existed before humans. I felt amazement and wonder looking at all the different species that can coexist on earth. I believe it is our ethical duty as humans to give animals the best chance of survival we possibly can, considering we regularly invade their habitats for our own purposes. The museum lets visitors connect with nature through knowledge and lots of information, but more importantly it lets visitors get closer to nature than most have ever been before in order to give them a new appreciation and respect for it. In summation, the museum helped me gain a sense of responsibility for humanity's treatment of nature and helped me realize the importance of preserving natural ecosystems.

The inside of a cave with stalactites in the background (Natural History Museum).
Just one of the countless types of habitats that humans should appreciate in order to conserve (Natural History Museum).

Nature and the Human Spirit: Mostly everyone has a daily routine which they go through. While this can be good in terms of keeping life in order and being productive, it is important to step out of the routine regularly. The Natural History museum is a perfect way to step out of our every day lives and appreciate what's around us. Most people have trouble focusing on things other than themselves, so to be able to focus on animals and ecosystems other than the one that they interact with on a daily basis is a great way to get out of a daily routine. It also helps us realize that there is so much more to the world than what is just around us. There is so much left to discover about the world and about nature specifically, and I think the Natural History museum is a good way to motivate people to go out and discover nature.

Butterflies enjoying bananas and oranges (Butterfly Cage at the Natural History Museum).

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