Gnarly Nature Florida Museum of Natural History

Introduction

For this assignment I went to the Florida Museum of Natural History which was so much better than I had expected. I felt like an over zealous elementary schooler on a field trip. I went in with three themes in mind: Nature on Display, Nature and Ethics, and Nature and the Human Spirit. These themes helped to guide me through the museum and enhanced my overall experience.

NATURE ON DISPLAY

LIFE SIZE FOSSIL OF A MAMMOTH

While Jackie and I were waiting in line to get into the museum, the first exhibit we saw was this massive fossil. Coming straight from the more serious Harn museum, this was a bit of a shock. We both commented on how impressive it was and it set a tone of joyful juvenile discovery and immersion. I have seen many documentaries on prehistoric creatures, but no screen does them justice. There is no substitute for standing in front of a life size replica, beholding its sheer size and grandeur. 13 feet and 8 tons sound like big numbers, but they are hard to comprehend without a tangible representation.

A lot of my childhood was spent exploring museums both on field trips and with my grandfather. I felt like a little kid again in this museum and it was amazing. When I saw the chance to literally go into one of the exhibits, my younger self pulled me into the little cave with him. The interactive displays of the museum also augmented my overall experience. As a child, my time was spent playing with my abundance of legos. This made me into a very tactile learner so being able to open up a panel on a log to learn about the prehistoric insects that abided in them cemented this knowledge more than reading it in any textbook.

Nature and the Human Spirit

I have been scuba certified for 6 years now and have travelled to the underwater planet on multiple occasions in multiple location. It is one of my favorite activities. There was a wing of the museum that gave the impression of being underwater. It used special blue lighting and oversized aquatic creatures to convey this. It brought me back to that planet and out of my ordinary student life. I was no longer a student completing an assignment, I became an explorer of the underwater world. On top of this, I was able to learn facts that I subconsciously associated with my memories of seeing the same creatures. The surface of the earth is over 70% water. Being 100 feet underwater and looking out over a cliff emphasizes the mystery of Earth. When all I can see is blue in all directions but behind me, the majesty of nature is evident to me. This wing was one of my favorites because of this affect. It forced me to reevaluate my importance in the world and just how small I really am comparatively.

Nature and Ethics

This museum also featured many panels all about conservation of the Earth. The above mural emphasized how it is not up to the government agencies or the farmers to protect the Earth's future, but all of "us." There was also a section devoted to conservation that anyone can do in their own home. My favorite part of this was the lightbulb energy quiz because it was both interactive and highly implementable.

For a grand finale, Jackie and I walked into another world: The Butterfly Rainforest. This awe inspiring garden did in fact create a feeling of one with “biotic community.” I realized the responsibility that comes with the ability to conquer the land. We are not here to pillage and extort, but to foster and promote. Further instilled with tactile interaction, this place resonated within me and strengthened my appreciation for the beauty of nature. I love the outdoors and have practically grown up outside. This section of the park was free to UF students but I would have gladly paid the 14$ for entrance. I had a wonderful feeling of stress relief while in this garden that might influence me to return during finals week.

All photos taken and used with permission by Hunter Ramsay or Jacquelyn Siegel

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