The picture above: The Florida Museum Natural History Building. January 25, 2017. Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville.
The picture above: Poitevien, Michaela. Butterfly #1. January 26, 2017. Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville.
Nature on Display: Surprisingly, the exhibit that I found the most fascinating at the museum was the very one that I was terrified to enter. The design of the "Butterfly Exhibit" really appealed to me because inside the enclosure was not only spacious and much larger than I had expected, but also designed to make the experience of those who enter calming. This was goal was reached by the presence of a waterfall, bridges, and a plethora of plant life. Despite my disdain for them, the quick movement of the butterflies really captured my attention and allowed me to gain an appreciation for them and their very nature. The way they fluttered and landed on surfaces, whether they were flowers, people, or rails, was something that stood out to me. The way they traveled to effortlessly and without a true path. They just fluttered about showing off the beautiful colors of their wings. I learned in the exhibit that sometimes in the natural world one must ignore an established fear and set it aside to appreciate and see the beauty in aspects of nature one could not have imagined seeing any beauty. I was able to learn this through this medium because the exhibit forced you to fully immerse yourself in the world of butterflies. The part I found the most experience about my museum experience is that I conquered my fear of butterflies and that I was able to see past my long-held belief that they were just cockroaches with pretty wings.
The picture above: Poitevien, Michaela. Cave of NW Florida Waterways & Wildlife Exhibit January 26, 2017. Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville.
Nature and Ethics: My visit to the museum did provide me with an experience, which I think Leopold would have approved of, to take more than just a second to appreciate cultures, land, and creatures that are present not only today in the Florida environment, but also aspects that were present in the past. As I went through the museum I felt curious about what I was going to see and interested in how the different exhibits related to Florida. For example, in the "Waterways & Wildlife" exhibit the cave was very interesting to me because even though I knew that there were caves in Florida, I had never experienced what it was like to be in one. I was alone while inside and it felt very creepy and eerie. I felt like one of the bats on display was going to come to life and start flying around the cave! Other people in the overall exhibit were like me, interested in whatever it was they were looking at. The children were always amazed, while the adults seemed to have a youthful glow about them as they took in the new information presented before them. The museum allowed visitors to connect with nature by not only informing them about Florida's environment, but also creating exhibits where they could experience them. They accomplished this with not only their larger than life fossils and shark jaws, but also with their very realistic and immersive paintings and colorful, diverse displays. My experience has increased the ethical responsibility Leopold believes we have to nature. There is so much to respect and be taken aback by in the world, but everyone is to busy to really immerse themselves in their surroundings. I definitely plan on slowing down to truly experience and appreciate the overlooked of my surroundings.
The picture above: Poitevien, Michaela. Estuary Close Up Exhibit. January 26, 2017. Florida Museum of Natural History. Gainesville, Florida.
Nature and the Human Spirit: The Natural History Museum acts as a reminder to all who visit to appreciate and respect the nature present within their surroundings. It forces us to step out from our everyday lives to take a closer look at the environment that not only exists today, in the home we call Florida, but also existed years ago in a Florida that was truly appreciated and sacred to natives, such as the Seminoles and the Miccosukee. The museum forced me to see an insect I feared as beautiful. The exhibit forced me to look past what I had always seen to see more than their exterior, but their very being and nature. To look at them as more than insects, but as a community that works together to the balance within their environment, such as by pollinating the flowers present within the enclosure. In addition to the butterflies, learning about the different waterways and how Florida houses so many different bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, estuaries, and oceans, allows visitors to appreciate the mystery and majesty of the natural world. The different bodies of water remind visitors of the diversity present within the world and arises inquiries pertaining to the different animal and plant life that exists right beneath the surface. It reminds visitors how diversity is important and each body of water is necessary because it provides an environment for different species of both plants and animals to thrive. My time at the museum not only made me take a different look into nature, but also into myself and humans as a whole. We, as human beings, must take more time to appreciate nature and gain a deeper respect for it. Our lack of appreciation for nature makes me wonder why so many people feel like nature is not of importance?