Understanding Life Through Nature Martin Nguyen

Nature on Display: Fossils

I found the exhibits which contained fossils from a past time the most appealing to me. Whether the fossils were from the formidable Mastodon, Giant Sloth, or a colossal shark, all of these fossils remind me how old our planet is. These exhibits make me think how we humans, who are tiny in comparison, managed to shape our the world in the most profound way more than any other living being on our planet. Seeing these fossils in person and rather than reading about the species from a Wikipedia page made me understand the experiences our Earth has faced. Through these immortalized fossils I've learned to understand that our Earth has been through a lot; from ice ages to a disastrous meteor impact.

Nature and Ethics: Butterfly Garden

The butterfly garden had the most appeal to the subject of "Nature and Ethics". Walking through the garden showed the beauty of nature in a small confined space. I felt the warmth of the sun shine through the exhibit, heard the waterfalls of the garden as I walked by, and saw quite a number of brightly colored butterflies flying by. This exhibit in particular provided the experience in which Leopold wanted us to understand. Here, as an observer, I felt that I was a part of nature because all the butterflies seemed to be fearless, flying in very close proximity to humans. Guests reacted to the exhibit in awe, normally taking pictures of themselves with the butterflies to capture the moment. By allowing visitors to actually walk around in an exhibit rather than viewing behind a glass pane, the museum succeeds in making the viewer look back and consider how modern society is changing the ecosystem.

Nature and Human Spirit: I generally lean to be more pragmatic at times and I don't think I can personally understand what Herschel means by "connecting to the eternal". The Museum of Natural History however did take me out of my everyday life to understand the beauty and grandness of nature. I've personally been through many camping experiences in the outdoors but that was a while ago, and the museum captured at least a fraction of what I experienced when I was alone in the wilderness. The museum offers small snapshots of the natural world, and I believe the museum tries to encourage us to experience nature ourselves. It never intended to be a replacement of nature, rather tell us to go out there and experience the mystery and majesty of the natural world in a broader sense. And from this we better understand our place in the natural world, and our obligations to keep our world from harm by our own hands.

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