Experiencing the Good Life at the Florida Museum of Natural History Grace Murray


Meghan and I went to the Natural History Museum this past weekend on a chilly Saturday morning, and this is a spark story about our experience!

Nature On Display

In our exploration of the Florida Museum of Natural History, I was able to explore my curiosity about our natural world and learn new information about various insects, plants, and animals that we share our world with. I personally feel like I appreciate nature and beauty in things like sunsets, areas like Lake Alice, and beautiful, clear blue skies, but I often neglect to appreciate the beauty in the little creatures we live among. The exhibit that I found the most appealing was the one with all the different frogs. The sign for the exhibit was flamboyantly colored and captured my attention immediately. I am not a huge fan of frogs, they kind of freak me out, but this exhibit helped me to appreciate them a lot more. I loved being able to go from enclosure to enclosure and having to spot the frogs in each one. It is so interesting how all the different types of frogs shared the same basic characteristics of a frog but they were all so unique. Some were tiny and vibrant, others looked like they were squished, and there was even one that can be as big as a newborn baby. As I was looking at the frogs I was in awe because some of them blended in so well with their surroundings and if I was in their natural habitat, I definitely would not have noticed them. I think that I found this aspect of the museum to be so enjoyable because I rarely learn about frogs, I don't really think about them unless I see one, but after this exhibit I have a stronger appreciation for them and for nature as a whole. It is truly beautiful and incredible that our world has so much diversity that we don't necessarily see or experience everyday. I learned a lot from this exhibit and felt like I was immersed in nature even though I wasn't in their natural habitats.

Nature and Ethics

Leopold recommends that we experience nature from a point of view where we are equal with the rest of the biotic community rather than a conqueror. The Natural History Museum did provide me with the opportunity to experience nature in this way, appreciating it for more than just its economic value. I experienced this perspective the most when we were being given instructions for the butterfly exhibit and then when we were walking through the garden. I felt like the policies about leaving your bags zipped shut, not touching the butterflies, watching for them on the sidewalks, and making sure to close one door at a time exhibited a great deal of respect for their lives. We were able to connect with nature very deeply as we walked through an exhibit, surrounded by plants, water, little birds chirping and flying around, and butterflies on the railings, in the trees, almost everywhere you looked. I think the fact that the butterfly enclosure is actually outside and is just screened in helped us to connect even more because the environment felt very genuine and not as man-made. I feel like this experience instilled in me an ethical responsibility to nature as Leopold imagines because we, as humans, obviously possess the ability to do major damage to the homes and lives of the creatures we share the Earth with, but in that power lies a great responsibility to care for them.

Nature and the Human Spirit

Heschel believes that in order to recognize the mystery and majesty of the Universe, we have to take time in our lives every day to connect with the eternal. In visiting the Natural History museum, we step outside of our daily lives to explore the lives of the plants, animals, and insects that live in our world but may not necessarily be recognized everyday. Going into an exhibit full of exotic frogs that we may never have seen before helps us to appreciate them and walking into an enclosure full of butterflies puts us in an environment where you can't help but appreciate the beauty in nature because it is literally all around you and all you can look at. I think a lot of understanding who we are ties into understanding where we come from. We live in a very diverse world full of amazing plants, animals, and insects that are all unique and serve their own purpose and I think that in a way, we can come to appreciate our differences and the things that make us unique through our appreciation of nature. There is a lot of mystery involved with nature too and I think if we appreciated other people the way we appreciate things in nature, we would be a lot happier and less judgmental.

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Grace Murray

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