A Trip to the Florida Museum of Natural History Chelsea Shay

Nature on Display:

The Cave Exhibit

When choosing the exhibit that I thought best immersed one into nature, I had a hard time because many of them piqued my interest. However, the cave exhibit was especially interesting because of the harsh contrast to the rest of the museum. The environment was dark, it was several degrees cooler, and the entire exhibit made it feel like you were truly in a cave. Just outside the entrance to this exhibit was an area covered in greenery and noises of a forest. But, once you stepped into the mouth of the cave it felt like you were transported to a hidden underground world. Adults and children alike gasped when they entered the room, and I heard many people discussing the area and the information spread throughout the dark environment. This setting, especially the dim lights and temperature drop, helped me immerse into the logic that went into understanding the creatures that live in caves. Many creatures that dwell in caves have adapted to have less significant visual processing centers, and sometimes they don't have much vision at all. The medium also made it easier to understand how photosynthesizing plants and warmth-seeking animals cannot survive in such an environment--it's too cold and dark!

Entrance to the exhibit.
The cave was so dark I couldn't get a picture in it without flash.

Nature and the Human Spirit:

The American Mastodon

Seeing an assembled skeleton of an American Mastodon was truly awe-inspiring to me. Outside of everything else within the museum, this exhibit helped me make a connection that was both mysteriously beautiful, yet quite trivializing. I learned that this fossil was only about 15,000 years old. That may seem like a lot, however, given the age of the earth...it was not that long ago. And this Mastodon, if it were alive today, would tower over me like an ant, just like its fossil did at the museum. And yet, it was a peaceful creature that ate twigs and berries while meandering around the land that makes up our Florida. However, if I were to upset or scare this creature, surely i would perish. This contrast between peacefulness and death that this creature carried is perplexing, yet recognizable. For instance, we can see the "mini" version of a mastodon by looking at elephants. And, again, we can also observe the peaceful behavior of elephants, but also the rampage and destruction of a frightened or livid one. This speaks to me about nature as a whole: a delicate balance between tranquility and ruin.

Nature and Ethics:

Climate Change and Energy Exhibit

Some of the posters that were surrounding the area on the wall.

My choice in the exhibit that best encourages making ethics a part of human action on/in nature was actually an area more geared towards children. The reason I choose this was because it was very hands on and informative in a simple and convincing way. It was not too "science-y" or littered with harsh jargon that many other sources speaking on climate change tend to be. It had very practical and compelling arguments for both adults and children that allow people to contribute to reducing the harm and strain put on our environment. In fact, many people who were in the area reading the posters and such were commenting about how they could easily change in the way the posters suggested (e.g. unplugging chargers, getting LED lights instead of incandescent ones, using a clothesline instead of a dryer). This exhibit was not only bright and informative, but it also achieved the goal of nonaggressively engaging people in simple conversations about their own impact on the environment.

FLMNH encourages visitors to participate in helping the environment by changing small aspects of their lives.

Citations: Pictures taken at the Florida Museum of Natural History (Gaineville, FL)

Created By
Chelsea Shay
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