Nature on Display
This exhibit was particularly appealing to me because of the small figurines representing baby sea turtles. I enjoyed the inclusion of a lower level of the exhibit to show the baby sea turtles digging out from the sand. I find beaches to be very calming, so learning about the various animals that live in coastal environments in Florida was interesting. The exhibit description used visual mediums to demonstrate multiple aspects of the wildlife, such as the life-cycle of Loggerhead Sea Turtles, threats to the wildlife, the importance of barrier islands, and various ecosystems within the environment. The visuals allowed me to compare the examples to real-life experiences from living in Florida. This was most likely my favorite part of the Florida Natural History Museum: I was able to learn more about things I have seen in real life, and truly never really paid much attention to. I feel that this visit enriched my daily experience of living in Florida.
Nature and Ethics
The Butterfly Exhibit was truly the best at the museum to experience Leopold's view of a significant way to see nature. Since the exhibit requires attendees to refrain from touching the butterflies in any way (not including a butterfly choosing to land on you), it encourages respect of the wildlife and truly embodies Leopold's view of being a member of nature, rather than a conquerer. While walking through the exhibit, I felt in awe of the flora and fauna, in addition to appreciation of the beauty of the various types of butterflies. It felt like stepping out of Gainesville, Florida and into the wilderness for a short amount of time. Children seemed to react the most enthusiastically to this exhibit, as this was the closest many of them had been to butterflies. The museum's view of this exhibit aligned with that of Leopold, which I believe encouraged others to connect more to the nature in this exhibit and fostered a sense of "ethical responsibility to nature", which was truly evident in parents reminding children to watch out for butterflies in their path and not touch them.
Shark Exhibit (Megalodon)
Nature and the Human Spirit
The Natural History Museum includes exhibits featuring fossils of animals from well before the existence of humans, such as the Megalodon featured above. These exhibits aim to launch us into another time, and seemingly another world, mostly through visual effects. The ocean floor exhibit featuring the Megalodon and other ancient organisms allowed me to step out of my usual thoughts of ocean life (such as ordinary fish and sharks), and imagine a time before humans or even primates existed. This truly puts human history into perspective. We have only existed on this planet for a few thousand years, a blink of an eye (as they say) in the history of the Earth. Seeing these ancient fossils of massive creatures that now cease to exist reminds me that no matter how evolved humans are or how intelligent we have become, at the end of the day we are just as vulnerable as any other animal. This exhibit also allowed me to appreciate the mystery of the natural world, since it reminded me that there may be creatures similar to the extinct ones on display that actually exist. For example, the coelacanth was thought to be extinct for years until it was found once again in the early 1900s. If this organism was able to go unnoticed for literally millions of years, who knows what other organisms live in the vast ocean that we are unaware of. This train of thought was all stimulated by just one exhibit at the museum, and I left feeling astonished by the so-called "majesty of the natural world".