The Florida Museum of Natural History Reanne Mathai

Introduction

For this project, I visited the Florida Museum of Natural History and absolutely loved it! I was able to go with a group of my friends and enjoy the experience with them as well! Visiting the museum allowed me to experience nature in a new light and learn valuable lessons about the importance of various habitats, conservation, and the Good Life!

Me in front of the forest display in the "Northwest Florida" exhibit. Photo by Christopher Wallack.
My feet and my friend's my plants in the "Northwest Florida" exhibit. Photo by Christopher Wallack.

Nature on Display

Me in front of one of the displays of the "Northwest Florida: Waterways &Wildlife" Exhibit. Photo by Christopher Wallack.

The "Northwest Florida: Waterways & Wildlife" Exhibit was particularly appealing to me because it had such a plethora of displays and information to offer. It included displays on Native American trade, caves, forests, and the marshes all in one place! The thing that was unique about this exhibit was that it highlighted the variety of ecosystems that exists in Northwest Florida. I don't think I would have been able to realize the extent of the biodiversity if I were just to read about it or see pictures. Actually going into the museum allowed me to step foot into all the locations at once and simultaneously appreciate the beauty in all of them. What made the experience even more enjoyable was that I was able to go with some of my closest friends. Sharing the wonder of seeing sites that we are not accustomed to and being in awe together was a great bonding experience that we will talk about far into the future.

Nature and Ethics

Me inside the full-sized cave display. Photo by Christopher Wallack.
Information about the collection of drinking water for human consumption. Photo by Reanne Mathai.

The Florida Museum of Natural History definitely allowed me to feel more connected to the "biotic community" than I did previously. Seeing the vastness of the cave made me feel so small and vulnerable. I almost felt inferior to the land mass that was before me. By making the cave "life-size," the museum was able to give the cave a dignified feel when visitors walk in. Although I really never thought much of caves before my visit to the museum, I was able to see it as a majestic piece of land that should be treasured for its unique qualities, including the stalactites and stalagmites that surround it. When I asked my friends how they felt about this part of the exhibit, they answered similarly. Everyone was in awe with the beauty that the display presented and were taken aback by how little regard caves are given in most people's minds.

This was especially true when we came upon the information about drinking water. After seeing the impressive nature of the cave, we could not imagine it being destroyed due to human consumption. This made me want to be more conscious of how much water I use and less wasteful with the water I have. I felt an ethical responsibility to protect the land instead of continuously taking from it to satisfy my own need. Having this information in this exact spot was a good idea on the museum's part. After seeing the cave, there are few people that would not be moved and want to start conserving water as well. Most people would be able to see the cave, see the drinking water sign, and then understand that they could easily save the structure they were in by changing how they live their daily lives just a little bit.

Nature and the Human Spirit

Me touching a baby turtle on display. Photo by Reanne Mathai.
Me admiring a large pitcher plant. Photo by Christopher Wallack.

In our everyday lives, we are not surrounded by much nature. There are mostly buildings made of concrete, brick, and other manmade substances. However, the museum reintroduces its visitors to many different types of natural locations at the same time. Therefore, no matter where a person finds solace, it can be found at the museum. By giving such a variety, visitors can better understand what kinds of environments they like and experience new ones they may never have had the chance to before. Additionally, the museum houses many unusual aspects, like the large pitcher plant. By being exposed to displays like this, people are able to better understand and appreciate the diversity and uniqueness of life.

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