In the above photo, you can see how the exhibit completely surrounds you. This is the purpose that nature and history museums serve: to immerse patrons in another world. Walking through the exhibits detailing the lives of the Calusa Indians of South Florida was immersive. There is even a hut that contains models of Calusa nobles as well as their ceremonial practices. While these exhibits were very cool and I thoroughly enjoyed them, there is just something different about the mangrove roots exhibit. I believe that it is a combination of the lighting and the sounds, as well as the large scale of the creatures around you as you walk through the tunnel. The difference in scale was a very powerful juxtaposition for me. Humans are generally larger than the creatures that they interact with. Most exhibits use this point of view, the general human point of view, that we experience everyday. This exhibit is different though. I believe this is what makes this specific exhibit so powerful and memorable.
Nature and Ethics
Probably my favorite exhibit on this trip, and perhaps my favorite of all museums that I have been to, was the exhibit on endangered frogs. I learned a lot from this exhibit, like that all toads are frogs and that toads have venom glands in their cheeks. I was very fascinated by their rich colors and their fluid movements. However, this fascination is what has put them in danger in the first place. Many of the frogs that were on display, excluding the poisonous ones, have been in high demand throughout history, especially the brightly colored frogs from Central and South America. These frogs have been prized by pet owners across Europe and North America for how exotic they are to the western world. This realization really evoked in me a sense of duty to help these frogs as best I could. I believe this to be a major reason as to why the museum hosted this exhibit in the first place. Before my visit, I was not aware of any of these facts and honestly didn't care. It wasn't until I was immersed in the world of frogs and nature that I found that I did care. Similarly, the butterfly exhibit evokes the same feelings. While this exhibit was closed when I visited the museum this time, I have been through the butterfly garden at least half a dozen times on field trips with school and family trips up to football games in the fall. When you are in the butterfly garden, you really realize how large you are and how much of an impact that you yourself can have on the world around you. If you aren't careful, you can easily kill several butterflies or destroy their homes and food. Museums serve to allow people to have experiences like this.
Nature and the Human Spirit
The greatest emotion that I experienced during my visit was nostalgia. This was for several reasons: I was born and raised in Florida, I have been to this museum many times, and there was a group of elementary students on a field trip to the museum while I was visiting. This really made me think about my past experiences with the history of our state of Florida. It reminded me of all of the lessons that I learned in fourth grade Florida history class. It reminded me of the visits I have made to the museum, which allowed me to compare my experiences to one another. I took a different approach to my museum visit this time. I focused on things I had learned and experiences I have had in the past and what it was that reminded me of these things. My little sister loves the Calusa Indians. She knows all kinds of facts about them that she learned in Florida history class. This is not something that I generally think about on a regular basis, yet peoples like the Calusa form the bedrock of Florida's culture. I now look around at the landscape of our campus and what all nature is contained here. Florida is truly a beautiful state, even though I sometimes forget that in the heat and the mosquitoes.