A Day at the Florida Museum of Natural History by jennings Jackson


The Florida Museum of Natural History has been preserving the wonders of our ecosystems since 1891. From Wollymamoth skeleton, to thousands of butterflies, the Florida Museum of Natural History has it all. The museum is a great place to explore on a sunny afternoon. It features a walk through replica of the Florida caverns and even a butterfly garden.

Visitors are greeted by the American Mastodon when entering the museum

Nature on Display:

The butterfly gardens of the Florida Museum of Natural History is a unique attraction that allows visitors to be immersed in a beautiful environment. The exhibit is a luscious garden with a creek flowing in the middle. It was amazing to see how such a landscape could be produced artificially. The ecosystem created in the butterfly garden made me feel like I was not in Gainesville, FL but in a tropical paradise.

All you can do is smile while walking though the green butterfly garden.

I have always been curious about the butterfly museum because I would always see the large birdcage like structure around it from the road when driving by. The structure made it seem like they had something very important inside. I was not disappointed. The garden was beautiful and had more butterflies than I expected. What I liked most about the butterfly garden was that it was somewhat interactive with the audience. Many of the visitors had to stop where they were because a butterfly had landed on them. It was cool to have the ability to interact with the animals instead of just looking at their reminiscences like the other exhibits.

Who knew butterflies love fruit?

Before visiting the butterfly garden, I did not know that butterflies ate fruit. After seeing this, I realized that I have never wondered what a butterfly does eat. This was interesting to me because butterflies are fairly common insects but what they eat is not widely known.

I don't think we are in Gainesville anymore!

What I liked most about the museum was that it allowed you to take a step back from your busy day and acknowledge the beauty of nature. So often we get so busy that we take our surroundings for granted. We don't appreciate the massive oaks on the Rites Lawn while we rush to Calc class. The museum puts nature on a pedestal and in a way that allows us to more easily see the beauty of it. This is because it is the only thing we are focused on during the visit.

The cool and dark caverns of Florida.

Nature & Ethics:

The Florida Museum of Natural History did a good job preserving nature for the most part. People seemed to be interested in the exhibits they were visiting, reading the information cards and pressing the interactive buttons. I thought they had great areas for smaller kids to explore. This made the museum suitable for all ages and I think smaller kids gain the most from the interactive elements. The museum did allow the visitors to interact with nature. As seen in the butterfly garden, people were able to get up close and personal with very rare types of butterflies. In addition, the man made Florida Caverns were a cool element to the museum. They actually made the cave colder than the rest of the museum to make visitors feel like they were actually in the cave.

The frog exhibits jail cells for the frogs.

The only ethical issue I found in the museum was in the frog exhibit. I really liked the exhibit and found it informative, but while examining these exotic frogs, I couldn't help but feel bad for them. Once they were able to hop around a full jungle, but now they are limited to this tiny fake ecosystem. I'm no frog expert, but something tells me these guys need a little more space to have an enjoyable life.

What happens when you realize that is the only space the frogs get to live in everyday.

After leaving the museum, I feel like the experience did uphold Leopold's ideas of nature. I felt that the addition of Native Americans in the museum allowed visitors to see a culture that thrived by living as one with nature. The native Americans paid much respect to the earth and provide a good example of how we should also treat it. I think this was a good reminder of how people can live without the modern goods of today. Just because our cellphone dies, doesn't mean that we do too.

People use the toxins of the dart frog on their darts to hunt for prey in the jungle. This is an example of people living as one with nature.

Nature & the Human Spirit

The museum allows people to enjoy nature at their own pace. There were no lines to wait in, no time limits, no constraints on the visitors. The museum allows people to admire at their leisure and I think that is what makes this experience different. You can view what you want when you want. My visit took over 3 hours and my only way of knowing that so much time had passed was my empty stomach. In our fast pace world, I think it is important for us to slow down here and there, and the Florida Museum of Natural History is the perfect place to help you do so.

In addition, the museum takes you out of your element and can transport you to a different world. By actually going somewhere different from your normal schedule, It allows you to escape your everyday life for a few hours. One can watch nature shows all day on the couch but will not know what it feels like to stand next to a 15 foot tall Wollymamoth skeleton. The museum shows you what it feels like to be in the mangroves of south Florida and even the caves of Tallahassee. It also takes you back to a time where people used their environment for all of their needs. The museum gives you the experience of attending a meeting with the tribe leader in a tiki hut. I think it is important to look at our past to reflect on it. I think we will be able to find some elements of life that we may have forgotten about and need to revisit.

Tools made by hand of natural materials.

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