My Visit to the Florida Museum of Natural History MARTIN CARR

Nature on Display: I chose a section of the butterfly exhibit to demonstrate an effective use of nature on display. This section of the walkway provides a very fluid, open connection with nature. I chose this section in particular to highlight how the construction of the boardwalk railing contributes to the effective display of nature with minimal disruption. While the boardwalk itself is man made, it is made in such a way that it appears very organic, making it even serve as part of the exhibit, rather than just a barrier keeping the guests from disrupting the nature. The majority of the boardwalk itself is wood, contributing to its organic nature. However, the railing in the photo itself is made of metal, with the exception of the posts on either side. Despite the fact that metal would usually not appear in such an environment, its design allows a smooth incorporation into the displayed natural aspects. For instance, it is able to be seen through with minimal visual disruption, allowing guests to witness the nature that would otherwise be blocked by a solid wall. Another aspect that allows it to blend in is the organic shape. Rather than having unnatural, straight supports, they are carefully designed using soft, natural-looking lines to form images of butterflies, while still serving their intended purpose. The last characteristic I noticed was the color of the metal. Rather than using shiny, silver metals that would stick out, the rails are a dark rust color, furthering the natural look of the boardwalk. All of these aspects of the railing come together help effectively put nature on display without significant disturbance.

Nature and Ethics: To showcase "Nature and Ethics" I chose this informational board in the butterfly exhibit. I was astounded by the information provided, particularly the fact that one square mile of forest in Brazil is home to 1,863 species of butterflies, and that this is due to 100 million years of undisturbed nature. However, this also highlights a very important ethical issue, deforestation. According to this board, extinctions at record rate are occurring due to deforestation, reducing the diversity that took millions of years to form. This is of course a major ethical issue, as it is destroying the land at a much faster rate than it can recover, polluting, and doing irreversible damage such as extinction.

Prior to seeing this exhibit, I was aware of deforestation, but could not fully grasp the implications. Being immersed in the exhibit and seeing the large diversity of butterflies, which is magnitudes smaller than the diversity of Brazil, gave me a much greater sense of the damage that was occurring. When I attempted to view myself as a member “biotic community” instead of as “conquers of the land”, I began to realize just how terribly unethical such large scale deforestation was, and it was quite upsetting. Being so far removed from the source of deforestation, it is easy to feel removed from the issue, leading us to not “love, respect, and admire” the land as Leopold asks. I feel now that it is important to everyone to develop such an appreciation of nature, and I have since been researching opportunities to be involved in preventing such environmental damage.

Nature and the Human Spirit: In the butterfly exhibit, there was a section of boardwalk which diverged from the circular path, ending in the middle of the exhibit. This formed a peninsula of sorts, where the viewer is surrounded by nature on three sides, with a small creek underneath. This was my favorite aspect of this exhibit, as it allowed me to be almost fully surrounded by nature, leaving me in awe of the diversity and denseness of plants, fish, turtles, and butterflies all around me. I agree with Herchel's belief that it is very important to step out of our daily lives to appreciate nature and the universe around us, and I believe this part of the exhibit definitely provided an opportunity to do so. Being encapsulated in nature in such a way helped me appreciate how despite all the technology and alteration of the environment around us, humans are just another part of nature, and that our actions are intertwined with everything around us. When one lives a busy life filled with technology and enjoying only human constructs, its easy to lose sight of the reality that we are just a very small part of the world around us, and an even smaller part in the universe.

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