The Florida Museum of Natural History offers a combination of interactive exhibits, historical context, and a unique experience of Florida's connection with nature. Through my journey at the museum, I became aware of the pertinence of how displays are utilized to immerse people in nature, the dynamic relationship between nature and ethics, and the interdisciplinary understanding of nature's beauty and its' influence on humanity.
A selfie taken in the exhibit titled "Florida Rivers: Biological And Cultural Corridors"
Nature on Display
"Florida Rivers: Biological And Cultural Corridors" provided a multi-contextual experience given its inclusion of natural waterways, the People of the Panhandle, and the indigenous species of the area. I found this setup so appealing because it provided concise information about how more than 1,700 rivers and streams within the state served as transportation and sustenance for the ecosystem.
The wax representations of Floridian natives captured my attention because it demonstrated the interconnected aspect of Florida. In a period called "Fort Walton" clay collected from the riverbank was utilized for pottery, which was integral to daily activities. Through the exhibit's display, I became aware of how vital each level of an ecosystem is to the holistic survival of each being. This was evident by the emphasis placed on water and how black bears, river otters, and sturgeon, use them as movement corridors, while humans use them for hydration. The interactive aspects of the museum, particularly "Songs Of the River", was what I found most enjoyable.
Nature and Ethics
The museum provided a beneficial experience that embodied Leopold's idea of humans being active participants in the "biotic community". In an exhibit titled "Piecing It All Together", I was able to walk through a depiction of a Northern Florida forest in which urbanization and development had not tainted the surroundings. This allowed me to reflect on how conservation of green spaces is incredibly pertinent to humans having respect for the wilderness because it provides a moving image of spiritual beauty.
As I went through the museum, I felt a sense of wonder of how diverse and colorful nature is and how it both is influenced and influences human society. Other attendants seemed to be fascinated by the animal figurines and the kids greatly enjoyed the spooky sound machines. The museum allowed visitors to connect with nature through multiple displays that highlighted how are daily lives are dependent upon the effective functioning and maintenance of the wild. Leopold's idea of ethical responsibility was imparted upon me during this journey due to the evident necessity for nature to have ardent human supporters.
My friend and I in one of the exhibits.
Nature and the Human Spirit
A butterfly resting on a plant.
The Butterfly Garden at the museum provided the most effective means of escaping from ordinary life. It is an enclosed structure that is comprised of multiple streams, diverse plant life, and vibrant butterflies of diverse coloring. This space is such a cathartic form of escapism because it draws central focus to the simple beauty of nature and allows immersion in a calm atmosphere that reduces the stress of daily struggles. The presence of such diverse butterflies, whether they be dull brown and white or vibrant blue and canary yellow, reflected the idea that eve though they are not the same, each representation serves as a piece in a wondrous mosaic. Such a concept can serve as a learning tool for humanity, given our struggle for equality of minorities. It afforded greater appreciation for the mystique and majesty of the natural world given it quiet strength and moving presence. In a subtle manner, the museum made me become more concerned and passionate about the spiritual connection between humans and nature.
A selfie in the Butterfly Garden.
All photos were taken by Alexandra Ramirez. Permission was given by all friends for the inclusion in this presentation.