Good Life at the Florida Museum of Natural History by jordan goldberg

Nature On Display: One display that really caught my attention was the butterfly exhibit. The preserve in which the butterflies were kept was masterfully designed and mimicked a real forested area perfectly. Through this exhibit, I was able to learn about various butterfly species and plants. The most interesting aspect, though, was that I was able to see some species that I had never seen before in my entire life. It was eye-opening to the fact that there are so many species of every animal/insect on our planet. The exhibit put nature on pure display with the constructed nature preserve, various plant and butterfly species, and rocky waterfalls. After I took a trip through and made it to the other end, it left me in a bit of a state of awe. As someone who has always had a particular fondness for the beauty of nature, the exhibit provided a good affirmation of that. This kind of experience can't happen with a typical stationary museum exhibit. This is what made the butterfly area pleasantly unique in comparison to other museums I've been to. The live butterfly exhibit at the Florida Museum of Natural History depicts a snapshot of nature as we'd like to see it someday but may not be able to access in our lifetimes.

Nature and Ethics: On the topic of ethics, this is where my view of the butterfly exhibit changes slightly. From the inside of the live exhibit, everything seems to be relatively humane. The same cannot be said from the stationary exhibit. This exhibit puts on display dead butterflies for the purpose of education. If this were the only aspect of questionable ethics, then it wouldn't be a terrible thing. But in the same area is a lab. This area is where the butterflies are lab produced and systematically manufactured for the sake of the exhibit, which in turn brings visitors (and money) to the museum. By connection, these butterflies are mass produced in the museum for money. This is where we find an ethical dilemma. This almost mechanical production of butterflies is the opposite of respect for our natural community. There are other ways to educate visitors, but because live/dead butterflies have more of an appeal and draw in more visitors, that is the medium in which the museum educates. I understand the purpose of the exhibit and why the museum has it, but to have a lab in which butterflies are mass produced is a slap in the face of nature.

Nature and the Human Spirit: An exhibit that helped me to appreciate the presence of an eternal was a model of native person carrying a dead fish to be used as food. It may seem odd that this exhibit is what connects me to the human spirit but there are various inferred aspects from it. We appreciate the eternal as something that has been a driving force steering our actions since the dawn of time. Seeing a person from long ago in their respective regular activities allows us to connect to the fact that even back then, the mystery and majesty of the natural world was ever present. But this exhibit/model also adds to the aspect of cultural diversity, a major ideal that makes our presence on this planet even more mysterious. Seeing what other people looked a long time ago, culturally and biologically, allows us to stand in awe regarding the workings of our planet and the eternal force behind time and evolution. It provides a better sense of the life we live today in comparison to the life we could've lived thousands of years ago.

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to the Florida Museum of Natural History. It was an enlightening experience to the wonders of the natural world, and I will definitely be visiting again!

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