Through my visit to the Florida Museum of Natural History, I learned about different species of birds, butterflies, reptiles, and other creatures, explored the lives of Native Americans that lived in Florida, saw how energy can be sustained, and witnessed researchers at work. The highlights of my visit and how they impacted me and other visitors are below.
Nature on Display
By far, the most fascinating exhibit of the Museum of Natural History was the butterfly garden. What made this exhibit stand out was the opportunity to see the butterflies live and up close - it instills an appreciation for their vivid beauty, variance, and the activities needed to sustain their lives. This exhibit captured my attention because the many species on display were so beautiful and unique. Being able to see live specimens really allows each visitor realize that natural history is an ongoing process, and isn't just about ancient species or long-gone societies, but about all of life on the planet today. It was really enjoyable to experience this exhibit for myself and also alongside all of the other visitors. We shared this sense of fascination and excitement which proved our shared values and appreciation for the butterflies and the garden.
Nature and Ethics
One of the first things I encountered while touring the museum were these informational displays about endangered species, including the Schaus' Swallowtail and Miami Blue. These displays play an important part in helping visitors connect what they see in the museum to the real world. They show how our actions - construction and development, pollution, habitat destruction - impact the natural world and other species. In addition to these displays, many areas of the museum captured parts of the natural world that humans cannot or do not often experience, such as the deep sea and swamps. There was one exhibit with waving blue lights and enlarged sea creatures. Visitors were awed by the atmosphere and the strangeness of the fish, turtles, starfish, jellyfish, and other creatures. These help visitors, such as myself, see how vast and diverse our environment is. I felt an ethical responsibility to protect all of these creatures from human activities so that the world wouldn't lose its rich and beautiful diversity.
Nature and the Human Spirit
The displays of the mastodon skeletons helped me step out of my ordinary life by showing me a species that's totally different from those I encounter in my day to day life. The mastodon is massive, and its tusks are enormous. I envisioned not only the creature itself but what kind of world it must have lived in, so different from my own. An animal that big probably needed huge roaming space and large masses of vegetation to survive. This exhibit helps us appreciate the wonder of the natural world in how such strange and different species evolved and thrived on the very same land that we inhabit today. It raises questions about how the world and its inhabitants have changed over time, and challenges one to wrap their minds around that almost incomprehensible scale of time. It puts in perspective what it means to be a human being - a small, but highly intelligent creature, living in comparatively cramped spaces, in a world totally alien from the one the mastodon likely encountered.