My visit to the Florida Museum of Natural History exceeded my expectations. I expected to show up, take a quick trip through the butterfly garden, and make my way out; however, I'm happy I took my time. The experience not only provided me with images of some of the craziest creatures I've ever seen, but also gave me knowledge and appreciation of these creatures and the natural world as a whole.
Nature on Display
My experience in the butterfly garden was visually fascinating--I saw hundreds of butterflies of all shapes, sizes and colors; creatures I didn't even know existed until my trip to the museum. The act of leaving the main museum building and entering the garden as well as all the plants and the sun on my face in the garden simulated the feeling of actually being in nature. I found these aspects of the butterfly garden essential to really appreciating the creatures--it was totally immersive in a way that pictures or an enclosure aren't. Throughout the garden there were several informational exhibits like the one pictured above that helped me further understand how these creatures live--I found this one particularly interesting because I never knew moths and butterflies were active at completely different times of day. Little bits of information like this made the experience both visually and mentally stimulating.
Nature and Ethics
Some preserved butterflies
My experience with the exhibits after the butterfly garden gave me a better understanding of where we as humans fit into the natural world. Next to the display pictured above was an exhibit about how butterflies are preserved and how their preservation can be beneficial. From this exhibit, I learned more about the benefits to cataloging species like this: it gives us a better understanding of the species which in turn allows us to better understand how to protect them in the wild (understanding their habitats, etc.). As we advance technologically humans continue to threaten the natural world, so it is important that we understand and monitor nature's creatures so we can protect them.
Nature and the Human Spirit
The variety of creatures I saw in the butterfly garden gave me a respect and reverence for nature I've never felt before. While the picture doesn't quite do it justice, the butterfly pictured above was easily the size of my hand. Before I visited this exhibit I had no clue butterflies could be so large, nor did I know they could be as small as some others I saw. Witnessing these creatures actually living rather than just reading about them in a book helped me appreciate the majesty and mystery of the natural world--some were so bizarre looking they seemed made-up, yet there they were, right in front of me. While I would call myself the furthest thing from a spiritual person, there is something powerful in recognizing how crazy and random nature's design can be, and this exhibit showed me exactly this.