Florida Museum of Natural History Matt kannapel

I’m standing in the butterfly rainforest at the natural history museum. In this room, you get to walk around in the butterfly’s actual habitat. It was designed to be as accurate as possible so that anyone who shows up can be fully immersed in said habitat. It would be hard to find a person who interest isn’t skyrocketed by this place. Being this close to so many butterflies really is a marvel. As I walked through, I couldn’t help but smile. It was very enjoyable to watch them interact. What were they doing? Were they playing? Were they fighting? With a creature I don’t really understand, it is hard to tell. But this definitely made me want to learn more about them.

As I mentioned before, the butterfly exhibit really allows you to connect with the natural world. But it’s not just this exhibit. Many exhibits all throughout the museum help you to see the greater value of the world. For example, the museum really likes to show the earth as it once was. It shows many animals, such as sharks and tigers, that have since gone extinct, and it shows various diagrams of what the earth itself once looked like (i.e. where our ocean used to be). All of this is in an attempt to teach the viewers the errors of mankind’s ways. It’s targeted towards the young, such as students at this university, so that they can be the ones who prevent it from deteriorating further. On top of all this, the museum has many Native American exhibits. I believe this is both so that we may learn about them and learn from them. Most Native American tribes held the land in very high regard. If they had their way, much of the land would still be the same. While it’s too late to revert the earth to what is used to be, it’s not too late to keep it from getting worse.

The museum is a marvel in and of itself. Very few places can truly make you feel as if you’re traveling back in time or to a different place. I met a child about 8 years old while I was there. “Met” is a strong word as it was really just him who came up and started talking to me, and talk he did. I don’t think anything could have shut him up about the fossils in front of us. He knew things about the creatures that I’m willing to bet most adults don’t know. While he was fascinated by the animals, I was fascinated by him and what the museum had done. How many places, especially educational ones, do you know of that can hold the attention of an 8-year-old boy? There aren’t a lot, and that is what makes this place so special. The museum, and the boy, did a wonderful job of making me better appreciate those animals (and all nature as a whole). It was truly a marvelous experience to see one so young experience so much joy over the natural world.

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