Afternoon At The Musuem The Joy Of The Past


Whenever I travel to a new country, I always make sure to visit the natural history museums first. I find great joy at observing the creatures that exist in our world, and those that once roamed the land. As such, when I heard that there was a natural museum located at the University of Florida, I made sure to visit it on the weekend of the my second month as a UF Freshman. It was a wonderful experience, made better by the fact that the exams were still a few weeks away; the museum may not have the mind-blowing number of specimens that the most famous ones located in New York and Washington D.C. have, but I think anyone in the area of Gainesville would enjoy its focus on Florida fauna and flora. I’ve been visiting the museum several times since then, but this will be the first time that I do so in order to understand the impact that natural history has on me.

At the Center of Nature

Nature on Display

To the best of my knowledge, this area of the museum is known as the Florida Fossil Hall. It is a room that contains skeletons of animals from five geological periods. The reason why this room was so appealing to me is because it felt like the skeletons could come into life at any moment; there were positioned in a way that look natural yet intimidating. The room’s resemblance to a habitat captured the attention of the little children that passed by me as I took a picture of the gargantuan sloth skeleton; they were pointing at the giant bird skeleton, wondering if it would come to life and peck them all. One thing that I did not know prior to coming to the museum was that llamas became extinct in North America about 10,000 years ago, implying that they were probably living happily in this land for hundreds of thousands of years. This comes as a big surprise to me, in light of the fact that I come from one of the few countries that has domesticated the llamas, Peru; until my visit to the museum, I was under the impression that llamas had only ever existed in the Andes Mountains. It is the joy of discovering something that I didn’t know before that keeps me looking for new natural history museums to expand my knowledge of earth’s biodiversity.


Nature and Ethics

As I mentioned before, this museum has a special focus on the natural history of Florida. When people enter the museum, one of the first exhibitions that everyone sees (as it is in the front of the museum) is the one that shows the Native American population that used to reside in Florida hundreds of years ago. I think having humans as part of the natural history museum is the best way to connect people with Earth’s biotic community, as it highlights that we, in Florida, are not that different from people of other regions or times in history. I have an easier time identifying myself with Indian culture and paintings because my family comes from a branch of Native American ancestry. When I look at their paintings or representations of their everyday life, I see people who do not wish to harm the environment, who take only as much as they need to survive, and who cherish the land and nurture it. This realization gave rise to sense of frustration at the downside of industrialization: deforestation, the extinction of fauna and flora, and the contamination of the air and water. However, I also experienced a sense of relieve when I overheard a couple teaching their children about the Native Americans; while the damage has already been done, I hope that people don’t think that it is too late to help restore a culture that has a lot to offer to the world.

The Heart of the Beast

Nature and the Human Spirit

The skeleton of the Columbian Mammoth was probably the thing that impressed me the most about the whole museum. When I look at this skeletons, and think of the gargantuan creature that once roam the same land as us humans, I can’t help but have a sense of dread at imagining what would happen if this creature was present in that room. Humans obtain their strengths from their numbers and their brains, but animals like the Columbian Mammoth have evolved to be independent, with the weapons needed to defend that independence. However, this creature does not possess a sense of right and wrong, it simply behaves according to its nature. The sight of the skeleton also reminded me of the story of a man who once saved a dying baby elephants from a group of hunters that had killed its mother; the baby elephant eventually became a strong and aggressive male, yet the owner would always be able to approach the animal and pad its trunk. I think it was a great idea to put the skeleton of the mammoth at the front of the museum; its breath-taking presence inspires me to submerge myself in the exhibitions that the museum has to offer, and I know I’m not the only one that feels that way.

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.