Florida Museum of Natural History Megan Palm


As soon as I opened the doors and stepped into the Florida Museum of Natural History, I was completely awed. The sheer excitement of kids running everywhere, diverse set of activities, colorful signs and overall lively hustle and bustle of the museum pleasantly surprised me. I actually visited the FLMNHS twice for this assignment, once during a Harry Potter event and once during a massive collectable sale. Both times were equally chaotic and exciting. Overall, something about this museum totally appealed to (and, admittedly, brought out) the inner child in me.

Nature on display

the fossil exhibit

The multitude of exhibits at the FL Museum of Natural History definitely made it difficult to choose a single one to speak of at length for this section. One exhibit that caught my eye in particular is the row of shark jaws on display. This fossil display, located at the beginning of the museum right after the Wooly Mammoth skeleton (also eye-catching) featured the jaws and teeth from a variety of shark species, including the infamous megalodon shark. The variances in the size of each fossil, as well as their strategic arrangement within the museum made this exhibit instantly stand out to me -- basically, these teeth were massive. The appeal of this exhibit is also largely due to my own interests; As a child, I loved archaeology and comparing the fossil records of different species. Even today, it contributes a distinctly different perspective, as we get to see a side of these animals that we've never seen before (and may never see otherwise).

Me standing in front of the shark fossil exhibit

Nature and Ethics

Charles Doe's egg collection

There were many ways in which the viewer, walking through the FLMNH, was able to interact with nature and gain a sense of the human interaction with our environment. For the average museum-goer (with myself included), the FLMNH provides an alternative view of the natural world, as we are exposed to parts of our world we've never before seen and are allowed to visually interact with nature in many different ways. Although the museum definitely provides historical accounts of the human-nature interaction throughout its exhibits, I found it difficult to examine the current environmental impact we humans have on the natural world in detail.

Additionally, though the FLMNH took steps to ensure its exhibits were as interactive as possible, I questioned the ethics of one display in particular: Charles Doe's egg collection. Specifically, I wondered how exactly Charles Doe came to acquire these eggs, and how many baby birds were harmed in the making of this exhibit. Consequently, this exhibit caused me to realize the extent to which scientists (especially, to my surprise, bird egg examiners) will go to in order to examine and define nature, even when we may harm natural creatures or disrupt the balance of ecosystems in the process. This, in turn, facilitated my consideration of the overall impact of human processes and curiosity on our environment -- which, in many cases, can create negative results. Thus, ethical questions posed by my analysis of the Charles Doe egg collection at the FLMNH provoked me to question human-environment interaction and, as Leopold imagines, inspired me to interact with the natural world in a more responsible and conscious way.

With Doe's egg collection

Nature and the Human Spirit

the Calusa Fishing exhibit

As far as I've observed, the majority of exhibits at the FLMNH regarding human-environment interaction are based on the past. Of these exhibits, one in particular caught my eye as an excellent representation of humans' connection to nature and the natural universe: The Calusa display. This exhibit, based on archaeological and historical research, depicts a scene at the shore of a Calusa village. It was exceptionally eye-opening to me, as I had never before realized just how much past peoples interacted with their environment and how dependent they were upon it to survive. The display provides written and visual descriptions of the resources of the Calusa people, as well as the technology and tools they fashioned out of natural elements to better harness their natural surroundings, such as canoes used to go shark fishing. Though this detailed display (as well as the other historical or human-oriented exhibits at the museum), I was able to step outside of myself and discover more about the lives and environmental encounters of indigenous people who lived long ago.

Standing next to the Calusa display

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