Step Into Nature The butterfly rain forest at the Florida Museum of Natural History

The butterfly rain forest creates a vivid memory for all who enter. Its simplicity is undermined by the innate extravagance and beauty of the creatures within its bounds. Stepping into this sanctuary, one is instructed to observe rather than interfere — an excellent standard for avoiding harm to others. There aren't just butterflies in this exhibit of the museum. There are small birds, fish, and of course plants alongside the main attraction here. In fact, the ecosystem here is dependent upon these aspects working together in harmony. This display brings to mind the larger idea that our world functions through cooperation at its most basal tier.

Statue at the Florida Museum of Natural History butterfly exhibit

Nature is beautiful. Most people can agree on this statement, but interestingly, most people also support endangering it for economic gain. Exhibits and sanctuaries like the butterfly rain forest let people see the other side of environmental destruction — the world being heavily impacted by our actions. As someone who supports environmental initiatives already, visiting this place allowed me to appreciate nature even more and on a personal level. I enjoyed getting lost in time and gaining a deeper insight into the lives of these creatures and the ecosystem they work so hard towards. One moment that really stood out to me was guest in the exhibit repeating the phrase "they don't hurt you" in regards to the butterflies landing on my head. At the time, I felt a fool. However, reflection on the experience has lead me to a disheartening reality: "They", the butterflies, won't hurt me, but we certainly hurt them. Every day we hurt many of these same types of ecosystems in the real world that aren't protected by the boundaries of a museum. As Leopold states, we must "love, respect, and admire" nature. This ideal has been pushed to the side in recent decades and I believe exhibits like this one can help revitalize a contempt for destruction and a compassion for all living beings.

Taken at the butterfly exhibit of the Florida Museum of Natural History

The Natural History Museum as a whole lends itself to an escape of sorts from societal obligations and other such worldly stresses. A certain sense of appreciation may be had for nature through experiences in observing and interpreting its various aspects of beauty and grace as it relates to the soul of the individual. It provides an environment in which introspection can more apparently take place in a meaningful way. In this way, one may come to know themselves better as well as other beings living in the same world.

From left to right: Outside FLMNH, followed by butterfly exhibit photos of varying species
Created By
Alexander Talmadge

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