The Florida Museum of Natural History Ciara McAleavey

Nature on Display

One of the displays I found most enjoyable at the Florida Museum of Natural History was the Northwest Florida: Waterways and Wildlife exhibit. After rounding a corner and entering a room filled with trees, brush, wood, and nature, you are instantly thrown into that habitat as the exhibit is so life-like and the accompanying sound effects add elements of legitimacy. For someone how is unaware or uneducated about the aspects of nature, like myself, I believe this exhibit is an excellent insight into what it is like in wildlife. For those who appreciate nature and love hiking or camping, I believe this is exhibit would allow for elements of memories an nostalgia. I never expected this natural history museum to contain exhibits so rich in tangible and life-like elements--and I was thoroughly impressed. If one hoped to convey nature is such a physical sense through any other medium--books, movies, paintings, etc.--I believe it wouldn't be half as convincing or amazing as this exhibit was.

Northwest Florida: Waterways and Wildlife. Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville
Northwest Florida: Waterways and Wildlife. Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville

Nature and Ethics

In response to Leopold's view that we need to start viewing ourselves as members of the "biotic community," I believe the wildlife exhibit above does a great job at connecting one with the land. Yet, I find that another exhibit, The Calusa: People of the Estuary, does an extraordinary job as well. It depicts the inland communities and culture of the Calusa Indians who resided in South Florida almost 6,000 years ago. We are able to see the transformation from their inland habitat to a land of estuaries. Through these physical embodiments, I felt as though I was a part of the Calusa tribe through the immense structures and convincing sound effects. I think this exhibit is so important in the realm of appreciating Florida's history and the Calusa Indians and possessing an ethic duty to honor those who lived in our past and developed our lands. Although now taken up by estuaries, I believe the tribute to the Calusa Indians in the museum is one that is extremely vital to recognize and understand.

The Calusa: People of the Estuary. Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville
The Calusa: People of the Estuary. Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville

Nature and the Human Spirit

The Florida Museum of Natural History helped me step out my ordinary life by allowing me to experience their butterfly garden exhibit. Upon walking outside into an environment flooded with sunlight and filled with flowers, plants, miniature waterfalls--and of course, butterflies--I instantly smiled with satisfaction. Its not everyday you get to interact with a butterfly by stepping into its environment, and its certainly not like anything I have ever experienced before. This exhibit made me feel at one with the natural world. I rarely ever see butterflies fluttering about outside, and when one landed on my shoulder and rested there for a couple of minutes, I felt a part of nature and a part of the butterfly culture. It was definitely such a soothing yet exciting experience to delve into an environment so sacred and awe-inspiring and unique. The exhibit just made me more happy in general and gave me a more valuable and cherished perspective of nature that I didn't have before.

Butterfly Rainforest. Florida Museum of Natural History
Butterfly Rainforest. Florida Museum of Natural History
Butterfly Rainforest. Florida Museum of Natural History

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