The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is located in Dayton, Ohio and was founded in 1893 as a part of the Dayton Public Library and Museum. The collection was gathered and displayed by prominent citizens in the community. When the collection grew large enough, a group of citizens organized the Dayton Society of Natural History in 1952. This Society became responsible for the growing collection and transformed the once random collection into the Dayton Museum of Natural History. Boonshoft Museum of Discovery



The Museum’s main building was completed in 1958, a planetarium, expanded exhibition space, and large additions to the collection was added in 1991. The Society became more and more dedicated to the scientific discovery and the educational inspiration of children in the community.

The Society, along with a group of community leaders began developing specialized programs and exhibits at the Museum to entertain and educate children of all ages. The idea of creating a dedicated Children’s Museum in Dayton was officially underway.

As the success of the Children’s Museum gained visibility and momentum, a partnership between it and the Museum of Natural History was developing. In 1996, a merger was agreed upon - the Children’s Museum and the Natural History Museum was joined under the umbrella of the Dayton Society of Natural History. As a direct result, the Dayton Museum of Discovery was born.

Through the years that followed, the board commissioned the development of professional exhibits, extensive improvements, and even a name change was in development. As of January 1999, one of the Museum’s most dedicated friends, Oscar Boonshoft, became the new namesake of the Museum. Hence, why it is now known as the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery.

The mission of the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is: “To be the premier regional provider of interactive science learning experiences which enrich the lives of children and adults, enhance the quality of life in our community, and promote a broad understanding of the world.” The Museum aims to “preserve, protect, and enhance the Museum's anthropology, geology, paleontology, and biology collections, and to make these collections available for exhibition, education, and research purposes.” The Museum is now one of the premiere discovery centers for children in Ohio. Dayton, Ohio: Boonshoft Museum of Discovery - Photo: Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

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»Permanent Exhibitions

Permanent Exhibitions

There are a variety of engaging, interactive, and educational experiences to be had at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery. These exhibits include: Space Theater, Kid’s Place, Bieser Discovery Center, Tidal Pool, African Room, Explorer’s Crossing, MeadWestvaco Treehouse, Discovery Zoo, Oscar Boonshoft Science Central, Hall of the Universe, Science on a Sphere, and Splash!.

The Space Theater is the common name for the Museum’s Planetarium and it features realistic and spectacular full-dome films, providing an exciting and new sensory experience. There are three specialized shows at the Space Theater including planetarium shows, which provide interactive experiences with the night sky; full-dome films, which feature full-color life images of Earth, space and the very distant past; and 3D shows that bring scientific images close enough to touch. There is a show to spark every visitor’s interest and the Space Theater is not to be missed.

Kid’s Place offers a safe and hands-on place for young children to explore and learn about natural history and scientific advancements. It is a safe environment which provides tactile learning tools and fun, interactive, and physical activities to engage early learning. Dayton, Ohio: Boonshoft Museum of Discovery - Photo: Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

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»More Permanent Exhibitions

More Permanent Exhibitions

Bieser Discovery Center is a natural world which aims to foster interest in nature, including reptiles, insects, mammals, fossils, minerals, and much more. There is even a reptilian celebrity named Rajeev at the Bieser Discovery Center, he is a 14-and-a-half-foot long Burmese Python who usually spends most of his day napping and entertaining guests. The Center has seemingly endless areas and exhibits to explore, including a vast collection of biological items to investigate. From understanding the construction process of a hornet’s nest to using a microscope to study the bacterial growth on countertops, there are all sorts of things for budding biologists to study.

The Tidal Pool is open daily from 1 – 2 p.m. daily. Visitors can step up to a small wooden deck area and explore a small piece of the ocean. This small rocky display area contains live sea stars, sea anemones, sea cucumbers, and gumboot chitons. Museum staff will be there to guide visitors through the display and provide educational information about the marine life.

The African Room contains one of the Museum’s oldest inhabitants, Nesiur the Mummy. She is on display with other ancient African artifacts including pottery and jewelry. The Discovery Zoo is one of the most fun hands-on experiences at the Museum. It contains all sorts of animals for visitors to see up-close-and-personal, everything form the furry to the scaly.

Explorer’s Crossing allows children to pursue their dreams role play in any scenario they choose, they can act as a chef, a pest control person, a lawyer, a vet, and even as waste management officials. They can learn the importance of recycling, how to fill all sorts of roles and play as much make-believe as their hearts desire. Dayton, Ohio: Boonshoft Museum of Discovery - Photo: Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

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»More Permanent Exhibitions

More Permanent Exhibitions

MeadWestvaco Treehouse is a fully-enclosed treehouse that extends beyond the traditional walls of the Museum. This allows visitors to gain access to the natural world while learning about environmental preservation.

Oscar Boonshoft Science Central is a world of hands-on scientific fun. Visitors can conduct their own experiments in the “Do Lab”, experience the phenomenon of color recognition and detection at the “Color Wall”, learn about how liquid responds to gravity and various motions at the “Water Table”. There is also a manipulation area where children will learn about points, lines, and curves through rubber band art. The PNC Be Green House is a new eco-friendly home located at the Boonshoft Museum. This house allows visitors to explore what makes a low-impact 21st century house with green technology.

The Hall of the Universe allows visitors to study the vast universe, learn about the galaxy, and explore the intriguing complexities of space. If visitors want even more speace and Earth exploration, the Science on a Sphere exhibit is a 68-inch diameter globe, suspended in mid-air, which takes visitors on a tour of Earth and space.

Splash! Takes visitors on an adventure through the Miami Valley. This exhibit teaches visitors about local aquifers, conservation efforts, and what they can do to preserve important natural resources. There is even education on what it takes to work in the waste management and water department careers. Each of these exhibits has something wonderful and educational to offer for visitors of all ages and interests. Dayton, Ohio: Boonshoft Museum of Discovery - Photo: Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

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»Featured Exhibition

Featured Exhibition

The current featured exhibition at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is “The Age of Mammals and Ice” which is coming to the Main Exhibit Hall from January through May 2017. This exhibit features exciting and interactive exhibits; visitors can feel the weight of a mammoth tooth and touch a piece of mammoth hair and skin. Visitors can even spend the day in the life of a saber-toothed cat, and play in the snow with a Smilodon pack. Visitors can really feel as if they are on a journey in the Ice Age alongside all of their infamous mammal friends. Dayton, Ohio: Boonshoft Museum of Discovery - Photo: Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

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»Events and Activities

Events and Activities

There are some exciting exhibitions at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, including daily educational programs at the Kid’s Place and the Tidal Pool, as well as daily films at the Space Theater.

Upcoming events include “Evening of Astronomy: Telescope Pointer” on November 18. Visitors can explore the night sky with knowledgeable staff members to help teach them about what they are seeing. Another exciting event coming on November 19 is the Dayton Regional Science Festival. This event plans to help families explore hands-on STEM activities. Dayton, Ohio: Boonshoft Museum of Discovery - Photo: Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

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»Planning your Visit

Planning your Visit

When planning a visit to the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is located at 2600 DeWesse Pkwy in Dayton, Ohio. The goal of the Museum is to make learning and family fun accessible for all visitors. There are a variety of guided and self-guided tours available as well as exciting exhibits and educational programs for visitors of all ages.

The surrounding Dayton area also provides vast entertainment and adventures to be had. There are all sorts of cultural hotspots to explore, world-class dining, and even vineyards to tour with breath-taking scenery. There are always seasonal events and celebrations to attend.

Back to: Best Things to Do in Dayton, Ohio Address: 2600 DeWeese Parkway Dayton, OH 45414, Phone: 937-275-7431 Dayton, Ohio: Boonshoft Museum of Discovery - Photo: Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

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Dayton, Ohio: Boonshoft Museum of Discovery