My Day at The Florida Museum of Natural History Samantha Micallef

My arrival at the Florida Museum of Natural History

On Wednesday, February 22nd I went to visit the Florida Museum of Natural History. I was a little nervous to go into the butterfly rainforest exhibit because I have an extremely emotional connection to butterflies, but was excited to see all the beautiful insects and flowers. I walked up and noticed various signs providing individuals with history of the museum, and banners advertising the butterfly rainforest. I walked into the building and the exhibit was to the right. I walked through a passageway and a security guard stopped me, informing me of the various precautions and other rules regarding the butterflies. After speaking to him I was off into the exhibit.

A few snapshots of various flowers and butterflies from the Butterfly Rainforest exhibit.

I walked through two automatic doors into the "butterfly rainforest." I was instantly captivated by the beautiful flowers and the amount of butterflies in the little encounter. I was a little nervous to walk around but as I went I grew more confident and comfortable with my surroundings. In regards to nature on display, this whole exhibit is a literal display of nature. One aspect of the exhibit I found particularly appealing is how natural the outdoor aspect of the whole thing is. The ceiling of the enclosure is a screen, so its basically a huge bubble for the butterflies to live in. I also loved that there were so many different types of butterflies in the encounter, and how they were all flying around together. The interior design of the exhibit was very clean, linear and colorful. The information provided to visitors was extremely helpful and easy to follow. Also, the outdoor design was so simple and effective, I felt like I was in an actual garden. Overall, the amount of color in the various flowers and butterflies was absolutely amazing, completely captured my attention and really invited me in. I learned that butterflies like to eat/hangout on bananas, which is really interesting to me. I overall enjoyed the butterfly exhibit because it was just such a serene and beautiful experience.

One of the many displays of pinned butterflies in the exhibit

Leopold recommends that exhibits like these are doomed because individuals focus too much on economic value. I think this exhibit does a great job of encapsulating more than the economic value of a butterfly attraction. At a first impression, I was in awe at all the various species of butterflies on display in the room. As I examined the butterflies, I began to feel uneasy as all of the insects on display were once living. I tried to put that in the back of my head when I went into the butterfly rainforest. In the outdoor portion of the exhibit, I was super curious and a little nervous because there were so many butterflies flying around my head. Overall, the outdoor portion was my favorite aspect of the enclosure. When I exited the outdoor portion, I was met with more pinned butterflies and was shown in distinct detail how it was done. There were even individuals who were pinning butterflies behind a glass window. The other individuals that I saw in the exhibit really seemed to enjoy their time there, especially the outdoor portions. The exhibit literally allowed its visitors to walk through a nature preserve full of various butterflies and plants. I overall enjoyed the exhibit however, the pinning of the butterflies to me isn't exactly ethical. Having dead insects on display is the equivalent of having dead bodies on display, and it's not exactly ethical. Although the process of pinning the butterflies calls for them being already dead, the idea of having so many dead insects isn't exactly ethical.

Nature and the Human Spirit

The Natural History museum helps us step out of our ordinary lives by putting us into an environment where we can step outside of the real world and immerse ourselves into what we are experiencing. Overall, the ways we connect to the natural world through museums and other experiences provided by museums allow us to find deeper meaning in nature and life around us. Also, with the connection between nature and the human spirit, my grandma and I always had a special bond over butterflies. Her and I would always go to the park and watch butterflies, and I always had a connection to them and our religion. So when she passed, butterflies turned into a symbol of remembrance of her, so butterflies in general allow me to connect with my grandmother even after she has passed.

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Samantha Micallef
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