Good Life Nature Activity at FLMNH By Jacob Wall

Nature on Display

Wall, Jacob. "Collage of the Entrance Exhibit at the FLMNH Butterfly Rainforest." 2017. JPEG.

My favorite example of nature on display at the museum actually ended up being the entrence exhibit to the Butterfly Rainforest. The exhibit is a giant wall of pinned butterflies that spans about sixty feet over the rainforest entrance. There are a few labeled sections for each region of the world with that region's native butterfly species displayed in glass cases. The reason I found this exhibit so appealing is because it elegantly demonstrated the size and span of the natural world. Seeing such a large, beautiful, and colorful display of just one type of insect (most of which I've never seen before) emphasized to me the huge amount beauty and information about nature that I am unaware even exists. The visual and aesthetically pleasing nature of the exhibit certainly made an impression that I won't forget.

Nature and Ethics

Wall, Jacob. "Informational Panel in the Butterfly Rainforest at FLMNH." 2017. JPEG.

The Butterfly Rainforest exhibit is set up to display a large amount of information on conservation and stewardship of the land. The informational panel pictured above is just one of many that are posted around the rainforest. The thing that makes these panels so effective is that they are embedded in the exhibit in such a way as to make the information on them very intuitive. They also force visitors to consider the information in the context of the natural beauty they are currently experiencing. The museum does an excellent job of allowing people to connect with nature while conveying a message quite close to Leopold's on the ethical treatment of the natural world.

Wall, Jacob. "Selfie of me with a Specimen of Morpho Peleides." 2017. JPEG.

The Butterfly Rainforest also affords a great opportunity to get much closer to parts of nature than most people ever get a chance to. These close interactions helped encourage me to "love, respect, and admire" nature just as Leopold says we should. I certainly felt a stronger connection to nature in the museum than I do walking along a paved road.

Wall, Jacob. "Picture of a Feeding Heliconius Hecale Butterfly." 2017. JPEG.

Nature and the Human Spirit

Wall, Jacob. "Morpho Peleides Butterflies Feeding on Bananas." 2017. JPEG.

The Natural History museum didn't feel especially spiritual to me. However, the part of the visit that made me feel most "connected to the eternal," as Herschel might say, was seeing the many similarities between me and a butterfly. In organisms so different, the same basic needs still exist, such as food, water, and some protection. There's something very profound in that, and I believe it's necessary to realize our "non-uniqueness" as humans in order to better connect to the universe.

Wall, Jacob. "Large Attacus Atlas Moths in the FLMNH Rearing Lab." 2017. JPEG.

The ephemeral nature of these captive butterfly's lives was also very interesting to me. For most of their short lives, these insects are held in one small area that they aren't even fully adapted to live in. Yet, all their needs are taken care of in a way that probably makes their lives much easier than a normal butterfly's. And perhaps the most interesting part of this to me is that butterflies aren't even self-aware in a way that would allow them to comprehend their situation. So on one hand, it's not even worth my time to ponder if their "hyper-ephemeral" lives are robbed of something by being held in the rainforest. But on the other, their lives might share enough common characteristics with mine to be worthy allegory.

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Jacob Wall
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