Introduction: The Butterfly Rainforest offers face to face encounters with hundreds of exotic free-flying butterflies including sixty to eighty species at any given time within at 6400 square foot screen outdoor enclosure. Visitors stroll through a lush tropical landscape filled with beautiful tropical trees and colorful flowering plants amid a walking path plants while listening to the sound of waterfalls flowing into a pond that is home to the multiple species of turtles and fish. The butterfly rainforest is also home to a variety of bird species including finches and button quail. Inside the museum, the wall of wings showcase thousands of preserved and photographed butterfly and moth specimens.

Nature on Display:Out of all the different exhibits that I visited during my trip to the Florida Museum of Natural History, the Butterfly Rainforest appealed to me the most. I thoroughly relished in the atmosphere. The rainforest has a rich tropical environment where I was able to wander through a unique surrounding filled with butterflies, birds, fish and hundreds of vibrant flowering plants. There were also different bridges that allowed an individual to cross the numerous clear streams. The main reason that the exhibit captured my attention was the feeling that it evoked within me. I visited the museum the week of three of my midterms and I was overcome with stress. Somehow, just seeing the decorative ceiling before we entered the glass enclosure excited me and brought back a childlike innocence. The idea that I would be able to interact with countless different types of butterflies was so electrifying that all my troubles seem to disappear. Being in this natural environment reminded me of Henry David Thoreau’s experience. In his piece, Thoreau takes to the woods, dreaming of an existence free of obligations and full of leisure. While I could conceptualize the idea, experiencing that kind of serenity firsthand was more powerful than any book. I learned during this trip that the natural world is something different for everybody. It’s something you have to experience firsthand and you and only you can develop that connection with nature. Every single moment spent inside the enclosure was enjoyable. To seeing a butterfly land on an elderly’s shoe and seeing his smile, to desperately trying to have the same thing happen to me, and even my slight fear of a dark butterfly, every moment created a beautiful memory.

Butterfly Rainforest. Florida Museum of Natural History. Taken by: Samantha Mascary
Butterfly Rainforest. Florida Museum of Natural History. Taken by: Samantha Mascary

Nature and Ethics: The Butterfly Rainforest provided me with the opportunity to admire and respect the beauties of nature through the vivid colors of the exotic butterflies and flowers. The whole environment was so serene and almost seemed like a tropical paradise. The enclosure had a sweet pleasant smell due to the aroma of the flowers. It was somewhat of an out of body experience for not only me but anyone who was inside the enclosure. Young or old, you could sense the sense of calmness that enveloped the exhibit and the gentle caress of the breeze that wafted from the various streams. Leopold believes that conservation efforts are doomed to fail unless we learn to appreciate the land for more than just its economic value. After touring the museum, it made me realize that his argument is valid. After viewing the exhibit, it made me realize how sophisticated nature is. Looking at all of the various species of butterflies, plants and other wildlife made me realize that the Earth has been sustaining us for an unimaginable amount of time and how little we know or care about its well-being. After observing the people at the museum, I realized that everybody’s connection was different. The younger children were fascinated with the bright colored butterflies and chased them around while the elderly simply sat down and relaxed. The Natural History Museum allows visitors to connect with nature by exhibits that allow us to connect with not only nature and our most truthful selves. Being in that environment promoted a lot of honest self-reflection and distanced us from the burdens of everyday life. My experience made me realize that we as humans need to appreciate and be one with nature instead of using it for momentary gains.

Butterfly Rainforest. Florida Museum of Natural History. Taken by: Samantha Mascary

Nature and the Human Spirit: Heschel believes that we need to take time out of our daily lives to connect to the eternal so we can recognize the mystery and majesty of the universe. As a college student at, I find it difficult to find time to step away from my textbooks or the computer. Going to this exhibit gave me the opportunity to reconnect with nature. The Butterfly exhibit is a great way to be immersed directly into nature. I love spending time in nature and especially this environment. Growing up in another country, I used to spend a lot of time outdoors with my family and friends. Being in nature allows individuals to be honest about who they are as a person and how they can better themselves. It also makes one realize that nature is unpredictable and you never know what is going to happen, but it's freeing to accept it in all its entirety. The Natural History Museum in its completeness, makes us step away from our robotic and lackluster routine and adds a little splash of light into our normally dull lives.

Butterfly Rainforest. Florida Museum of Natural History. Taken by: Samantha Mascary


Samantha Mascary

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