The children and I visited the Florida Museum of Natural History recently, located on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville. The museum is run by the state and is therefore mainly free to visit, except for the special exhibits. The main part of the museum is free and houses all the animal fossil exhibits from Florida’s past, a children's science room, and exhibits of the Calusas (an early Native American tribe in Florida). They also have a permanent butterfly garden and a temporary bat exhibit for which tickets must be bought. The butterfly exhibit costs $11 for adult Florida residents and the bat exhibt costs another $5. Children can see both exhibits for $10. You can visit the museum's web page at https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/

When we went to the natural history museum, they had tons of fun stuff to do. My favorite was the butterfly exhibit. The butterfly exhibit is a ginormous enclosed outdoor area with lots and lots of butterflies inside the net area. There is a winding path going through the area floating at the height of the flowers. When you walk through this exhibit, you can see a great variety and quantity of butterflies humming in the flowers, sitting on the leaves, and fluttering in the treetops. I really enjoyed how most butterflies would sit on there leaves and leisurely ignore the picture taking. At 2:00pm there was supposed to be a butterfly release happening were they let the newly hatched butterflies into the exhibit, but it got rained out when we were there. That was definitely the best part of the museum in my opinion.

We also went to a different exhibit. It was a classic fossil exhibit. In the exhibit they had a few different sections; the underwater exhibit, the normal exhibit, and the evolution exhibit.

The underwater section was really cool. It had the different sharks over the years, and boy was that megalodon big! You could probably fit 7 Me’s inside his mouth all at once. It also talked about how Florida used to be underwater.

There was also my favorite part of the three, the evolution exhibit. It showed how fish evolved into mammals on land and I really liked to get to see predictions of what the animals in between looked like.

There was also a normal exhibit. They had all sorts of cool and amazing fossils. They had amazingly big ground sloths to not so tiny snakes, as well as bear dogs and others you should find out for yourself.

Last but not least, (maybe just a little bit the least) the bat exhibit. That’s right, they have a whole exhibit on bats and echolocation only and how much bats eat. I don’t see the purpose of such a thing. Sure, you can put informational plaque beneath a bat model, but this is ridiculous. Not my favorite part of the museum, but if you want to know how much bats eat without asking or using the internet, go there. I didn’t like it though.

Overall, I know this looks like an essay, but I had a lot to write. I did really like the natural history museum in Gainesville.

I liked the butterfly exhibit where they had a garden of butterflies, flowers, and tall trees to make it feel like the butterflies were at home. Also, I liked the giant shark jaws. The megalodon is the biggest extinct shark ever.

And there was a cool bat exhibit about what they eat, echolocation, and how much they eat. While I was there I learned some things about extinct animals too. I saw related animals I didn’t know about; like bears and dogs are related and because of that there was an extinct animal called a bear dog. Another extinct animal was a giant sloth. It was massive, huge, and gigantic. The last thing I learned was about the native people before the Seminoles. Like: the tools they used, what kind of houses they built, and even that there were people before the Seminoles.

It was fun, but I wish we got to see the butterfly release at 2:00. It rained. It was still fun though.

ice age fossil display