Nature Activity at the Florida Museum of Natural History by Michael Hunter

Nature on Display
The exhibit "Frogs! A Chorus of Colors" is on display at the Florida Museum of Natural History from January 28 to September 4, 2017. I witnessed this exhibit two weeks after it opened and it was a joy to experience.

Going to the Florida Natural Museum of History, I was expecting to go see the butterfly garden and intended to write about how beautiful the butterflies were. However, when I walked through the doors, I was drawn to the exhibit "Frogs! A Chorus of Colors." I was never the type of little boy who loved frogs and thought they were so cool, but I really enjoyed seeing all of the frogs in the exhibit. There was such a variety of them and the exhibit was very interactive. There were the display cases with the frogs in them with information about the frogs, including the frog's class, family, size, food, habitat, and life cycle. Not only was there the information on the display, there were interactive stations where you could play and learn. It would ask a question on the top of a wooden block, you would guess the answer, then pull the wooden block up to see the answer, or the station asked a question and you press a button and it shows the answer. I saw families with their little children enjoying the exhibit, and it was just as much fun for the parents as it was for the child. I was incredibly surprised to see that there was a frog as big as my whole hand, so I featured that picture above (right side, second picture). It was definitely interesting to be able to see living frogs which made me want to learn more about them.

Nature and Ethics

I believe that the Natural History Museum provided me the opportunity to experience nature in ways that Leopold recommends. I say this because Leopold calls for us to "love, respect, and admire" nature, which is exactly the experience of the museum. The Natural History Museum displays the beauty and value of each individual creature, all the birds, fish, butterflies, and frogs. It makes you take a step back and respect nature more. Going into the butterfly garden made me feel as if I was a part of nature, not in control of it. It was extremely calm and peaceful and I just sat down on one of the benches and watched butterflies whirl around in the air, hoping one would land on me. The butterfly garden allows visitors to interact with nature and learn about it, as there was a tour guide feeding us information about butterflies. One thing that I found extremely interesting that I was standing around, looking at butterflies, and the older woman next to me said, "Oh. Look at this one. It's so beautiful." She was right. There on the leaf with its wings spread was a beautiful blue butterfly that I captured a photograph of (third photo down on the left). After taking the picture, I simply looked at it and admired it for a minute. The beauty of nature is an amazing thing, and to have another person trying to share the beauty with me meant a lot. I felt the responsibility to preserve this natural beauty as best I can.

Nature and the Human Spirit

The Natural History Museum helps us step out of our ordinary lives by making us go somewhere new, somewhere we wouldn't normally go. I had to travel 2 miles, which is a distance I do not normally venture. The museum also makes us think how we don't normally think. In our everyday lives, we rarely see a butterfly or a giant frog, and if we do, we just give it a passing glance or try to avoid it. However, at the museum, your sole purpose is to learn about the creates and notice their beauty. Honestly, sitting in the butterfly garden was so relaxing, just watching all of the little creatures flying all around me. I got a sense of being a part of nature. One thing that I thought was funny was that there were beautiful fish in the pond in the butterfly garden. No one necessarily notices the fish because it's a butterfly garden, but the fish were incredibly beautiful and I'm glad that I got the opportunity to appreciate the natural beauty of the butterfly garden. The museum experience is different for everyone, as shown by the fact that I didn't pay much attention to the large mammoth skeletons while an artist was sketching it. That was interesting to me and made me realize that there is beauty in the world that we, as people, just overlook. I have lived in Florida my whole life and have learned a little bit about the mangroves, but it was very interesting reading about it at the museum and walking through a display that portrayed a beach. Although I lived fifteen minutes from the beach, I rarely went. Going to the museum helped me appreciate the majesty of nature.

Credits:

Created with images by jared422_80 - "Gainesville - Florida Museum of Natural History - Butterfly Rainforest - Blue Morpho"

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