Nature and The Good Life By Laurel Duggan

Butterflies rest on some sliced fruit; visitors watch them up close.

Nature on Display: The Butterfly Exhibit at the Museum of Natural History allows us to view nature, not from a distance through a looking glass, but up close and in person. Museum visitors can walk through the butterflies' home as if we were viewing them in nature. I was fascinated by the butterflies resting on an opened banana, presumably eating it, because I learned something new about their eating habits. The most enjoyable aspect of the exhibit is the proximity to the insects.

Several butterflies rest against the netting that encloses the butterfly museum.

Nature and Ethics: Leopold tells us to experience nature as part of the biotic community rather than as conquerers of the land. At the butterfly exhibit, you can get a sense of the biomes of butterflies in the wild without traveling to a Central American rainforest to find them in nature. You can view butterflies as if you were with them in nature. Some might argue that thee butterflies live in an unnatural cage. This may be true, but the environment provides butterflies with protection and food and, perhaps more importantly, it fosters an appreciation in visitors for butterflies and nature. This appreciation may lead visitors to contribute to better environmental ethics in the world at large.

My friend Katie snapped this picture while we were all laughing together.

The Natural History Museum took me out of my routine and brought me into an immitation rainforest, where I was surrounded by beautiful fauna and an overwhelming number of butterflies. One butterfly landed on my friend and followed her around for several minutes; we felt like kids playing with butterflies for the first time. Taking time with nature confronts us with the insignificance of human toil and presents to us the joy we can find in simple pleasures. Nature also gives us the opportunity to spend time with friends and have new experiences together.

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