I went to the Natural History Museum with my friends who are also in Dr. Capaldo's class. We went after lecture to see how one could experience "The Good Life" through being in touch with nature. We marveled at the ants outside of the museum and were excited to enter. I distinctly recall being very excited to see the frog exhibit as well as the butterflies. Thus began our journey into nature and into ourselves.
Nature on Display: I found that the design of the butterfly exhibit was quite appealing. The meandering walkways and circular nature of the paths made me want to go around the entire exhibit rather than backtracking and viewing what I had already seen. The vibrant colors of both the flowers and the butterflies themselves captured my attention and made me interested in the exhibit. Because I was in a more natural environment, one full of flora and fauna, I was able to see how butterflies truly behave in nature. What I saw was their elegance in landing onto plants and how gracefully they used their proboscis to eat. This gave me a perspective on nature that was unhindered by artificiality, allowing me to truly view the quintessence of the butterflies. I grew up going to butterfly exhibits and keeping them as pets on occasion. Going through this exhibit brought back feelings of childhood nostalgia, making my experience at the museum quite enjoyable.
Nature and Ethics: The Natural History Museum certainly did provide me with the opportunity to experience nature and Leopold had intended. It allowed me to be a viewer looking through a transparent glass, seeing the natural habitats of the animals without directly interfering with their lifestyles. This allowed me to experience the uninhibited beauty of nature. I was in awe for most of the exhibits, but I definitely felt overcome with a sense of insignificance when I saw the larger species present in the museum. I felt as though I was truly a part of nature while I walked through the museum. I could sense the curiosity in the air as I moved between exhibits along with the awe at the evolution of animals. Others were also in awe as well, especially the smaller children who were fascinated by the frog exhibit. The older visitors took their time and were still fascinated, but to a lesser extent than their younger counterparts. The Natural History Museum allowed others to connect with nature through interactive exhibits such as the frog and butterfly ones, as well as allowing visitors to see specimens of animals that lived eons ago, such as wooly mammoths. The museum did instill an ethical responsibility towards nature for me, as I felt closer to these animals and the environment after the visit.
Nature and the Human Spirit: The Natural History Museum allows us to tap into our more primitive instincts that are attuned to nature. By visiting this museum, we are able to shed our material coils and distractions, such as video games and media, to focus on our surroundings:nature. The museum serves as a vehicle in which we can explore the natural world. It shows our various "relatives" in nature that we split off from during evolution. This thereby puts into perspective how far we have come as a race and how we are still part of nature, although we may not believe it. The sheer sizes and various evolutionary abilities of the animals in the exhibits, such as the wooly mammoth allowed me to experience the majesty of the natural world. My curiosity as to how these animals evolved these characteristics and defense mechanisms, as well as how they died out, invoked my sense of mystery and fascination while I was at the Florida Museum of Natural History.