Florida Museum of Natural History Isabella DeMino

Nature on Display

The Ocean Exhibit at the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, Fl. By Isabella DeMino. 2017. JPEG

I enjoyed the design of this exhibit because it was easy to become submersed in. When I came around the corner I made an audible gasp because I wasn’t expecting such a larger and intricate exhibit. The sheer size of the animals put into perspective their actual size in the time when the Earth was covered in water. With a plethora of nutrients and room to grow, aquatic animals were significantly larger than we think of them now. If this exhibit was simply drawings, I would not have been able to grasp the sheer size of the prehistoric animals. I also would not have been able to grasp the complexity of these animals coexisting in our time. I was intrigued by all of the exhibits having to do with water and aquatic life. I grew up on in a beach town so anytime I have the opportunity to go back to my roots I feel a sense of calm come over me. Since the museum is the Florida Natural History Museum, there are a lot of exhibits regarding sea life. Just as the sea and coast is an integral part of Florida’s history, it is a part of mine.

"Sea Turtle Hatchlings and I". Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, Fl. By Isabella DeMino. 2017. JPEG.

Nature and Ethics

"A Butterfly Landing". Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, FL. By Isabella DeMino. 2017. JPEG

I feel as though the Natural History Museum as a whole did a decent job preserving nature so it could be observed like Leopold recommends. It featured many simulations of natural environments that did not disturb anything. But, I do feel slightly different about the butterfly garden. The exhibit did a good job of allowing visitors to immerse themselves in nature and observe it in a pure state. However, I felt as though the exhibit instilled a sense of passivity in the visitors. A passive state of mind is not one that views themselves as a part of a “biotic community” like Leopold suggests we should. In order for us to view ourselves as part of a living and breathing community we need to realize that as humans we have a large effect on nature which can be echoed for generations; trapping butterflies in a garden so they can be observed is the opposite of this. This was obviously not the intended purpose of the exhibit but I was able to step-back from the beauty of the butterflies and analyze it critically. The rest of the museum was beautiful however. The reconstruction of scenes and displays of fossils were breathtaking.

Nature and the Human Spirit

"A Larger than Life Skeleton". Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, FL. By Isabella DeMino. 2017. JPEG.

The very first exhibit I came across in the Natural History Museum was the large mammal fossil. Standing at the base of it made me realize how small my life really is. What I do during my lifespan is significant to me and those immediately around me but there is so much more out there. I am one of over seven billion people inhabiting the Earth at this very moment. But this exhibit put time into perspective for me. There have many people who have walked this earth before me and there were millions of human-less years before that. Every living being is comprised of complex systems which sustain life and that is not captured by the mammal skeleton. All we see is the bones, the physical structure, which supports the internal systems which are far more intricate. Without either system, however, the organism could not exist. This point became apparent to me as I was wondering in awe at the gigantic skeleton- I still wasn’t seeing the whole picture. I believe that is important to grasp when trying to appreciate the natural world. We will never be able to see the entire picture but that is what makes it so majestic.

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