Florida Museum of Natural History Lauren Blakeley

This is photo taken by myself of a diorama depicting an exchange between Native American tribes.

Nature On Display

This is a photo taken by myself. In the photo I am with the poison frogs which are native to South America (look for the small blue lump in the center of the photo).

My one of my favorite exhibits in the museum was the frog exhibit, this is largely because of how interactive the exhibit was and because there are actual real life frogs in the exhibit. Each section was organized to have several different frogs that you could watch (I loved that each frog was easy to find within its closure) and had a placard with information about the frogs. I liked learning about the different types of frogs, such as the side-smoothed toad. Apparently most frogs have sharp teeth which they use to eat their food, but true toads, such as the side-smoothed toad, use their tongue and swallow their prey whole. Because I was able to see the frogs in person I was much more likely to remember the information about them, because I was able to watch the frogs in real time and see the movements that the placards talked about.

Nature and Ethics

A picture I took of myself in the Seepage Bog display.

There are several parts of the museum which encouraged me to look at the way I interact with the environment. One of these was the "Northwest Florida: Waterways and Wildlife" exhibit. This exhibit both created an interactive tour between the different ecosystems in Florida and explained the problems that are damaging the ecosystems. In the picture above, guests were encouraged to listen to and find the different animals in the seepage bog environment. In the Hammock Forest section foresting was discussed as a harmful practice to the ecosystem; when too many Cyprus trees are removed from the waters edge it removes the natural barrier that protects the land from floods. I thought this was extremely interesting because it showed how our actions can effect the environment.

A picture I took of myself in the "Our Energy Future"

While I enjoyed exploring the different ecosystems of Florida and learning about the different way humans effect these ecosystems, I thought that the "Our Energy Future" was more relevant to me personally. The exhibit showed a house and gave specific examples of things in Gainesville that can be done to conserve energy. I learned a lot about things that I should be doing (such as vacuuming the coils of my refrigerator once a month) and what appliances and appliance settings are the most energy efficient. It also explained the benefits of eating local, which I did not realize there were other than knowing where your food came from. This exhibit encourages citizens of Gainesville to live more consciously of the footprint that they leave on the environment and encourages them to take steps to minimize their footprint. I will admit that when I got home I checked my thermostat and tried to figure out how I could clean the coils of my fridge; the exhibit made me more responsible for my actions because it suggested plausible solutions to the problems it brought up.

Nature and the Human Spirit

This a photo I took of a diorama in the museum depicting an exchange between a chief of the Calusa and a visiting leader.

The Florida Museum of Natural History wonderfully explained the native cultures that inhabited Florida long before we did. The "South Florida People & Environments" was my favorite exhibit because I enjoyed exploring the life and cultures of the people native to Florida. It is refreshing to see the respect that they had for the world around them and that they were able to create a life in which they did very little to harm their environment. Although their beliefs are very different from the ones that I hold, I admire the respect that they had for the natural world around them.

This is a photo I took myself with a sculpture of a native women who is creating fabric for traditional dress.

This display was my favorite in the entire museum and it was because as soon as I saw it I immediately recognized the machine and the supplies that the woman was using. Knowing that I use a singer machine, granted much more recent than the machine she is using, helps me feel connected to the people who came before me. Although I may not be the same as them, it helps me to form a connect which makes the differences between them and myself much smaller. Learning about the different native tribes in the "South Florida People & Environments" exhibit both made me realize that their beliefs are very different from mine, but they are also valid and it is possible to learn from them. Such as their use of items in nature to create a life which does minimal damage to the environment; by no means am I ever going to live like the native people did, but I can try to be more respectful of the world around.

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