Art in Nature: The Florida Museum of Natural History Anna McBride

Nature on Display

This exhibit, depicting a customary welcome of a visiting leader by the Calusa tribe stood out and captured my attention because of its attempt at immersion into the culture. The picture on the right shows the entrance to the exhibit, decorated like the straw huts of the time. As soon as you walk into the exhibit, the music of the tribe fills your ears and the darkness of the hut overwhelms you. As you see the scene of the leader of the tribe greeting a visitor, you truly feel as though you are surrounded by the culture, and in that way, the exhibit teaches you about the culture of historical tribes in Florida without even having to read extra information. In that way, I learned more about the customs of the culture more readily than I would have in another exhibit, because it was presented to me in such a different way-through the music and atmosphere-rather than words on an information plaque. That experience also made my experience at the museum more enjoyable by presenting me with a different environment and allowing me to learn more about the history of Florida in a way other than the traditional museum exhibit.

Nature and Ethics

The idea of nature and ethics talked about by Leopold can be seen in full in the Butterfly Rainforest. Because the exhibit is so open and immersive, the viewer is truly able to appreciate nature while being members of the "biotic community," as Leopold recommends. When you walk into the exhibit, you feel as though you are part of it, as you are completely surrounded my nature. Butterflies fly above your head and there are no walls to come between them and you. They even perch themselves along the walkway, completely blurring the line between exhibit and viewer. You feel a sense of community as you walk through the exhibit; there are benches (like the one pictured) that allow you to sit and reflect on your experience, practically becoming part of the exhibit. As you walk, other visitors look equally immersed, as they follow the butterflies with their eyes as they fly overheard, and stop to appreciate the ones perched on the leaves. In other exhibits, the visitors read the information plaques, fully engrossed in the information they are learning. The museum allows you to connect with nature by becoming a part of it; by experiencing the rainforest firsthand and seeing the work that goes into its uptake makes you think about the impact humans have on nature. It instills in you a desire to give back, to more actively participate in the nature around you, as Leopold suggests.

Nature and the Human Spirit

An important aspect of the museum is that it allows us, the viewers, to experience the truly amazing aspects of the world. Walking into the museum, we leave behind our ordinary lives for a short time and become immersed in the natural world; a place that, for most of us, is something we don't have the chance to experience on a daily basis. By stepping out of our bubble, our eyes are opened to the world around us that continues on living without our knowledge. For example, the display of shark jaws on the left shows us just how far nature has come from where it started, and opens our eyes to a world in our oceans we never knew existed. The true mystery of nature can be seen in the cave exhibit on the bottom right; the mesmerizing formations were built entirely by nature over millions of years, with no human interaction. By experiencing these phenomenon and becoming aware of our Earth's history, we learn who we are along the way. It is truly humbling to walk through the museum and see evidence of the other inhabitants of this Earth, showing us that the world doesn't revolve around humans, but instead it is our duty to protect the world and do our part for generations of nature to come, because the Earth owes nothing to us. Instead, we owe everything to the world.

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