Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

Boonshoft Museum of Discovery
In 1893, the Dayton Public Library and Museum became home to the first exhibits of what would later become the Dayton Museum of Natural History. Throughout its history, the museum has received several donations consisting of collections that have been amassed by eminent residents of Dayton on their travels all over the globe. Additionally, given their natural history collections from the local area. In 1952, a group of residents came together to establish the Dayton Society of Natural History. This society assumed control of the collections and eventually founded the Dayton Museum of Natural History to house them. It wasn't until 1958 that the main building of the Museum of Natural History on Ridge Avenue was finally finished. In 1991, the museum received a brand new planetarium in addition to the other collection and display space. The Society remained dedicated to encouraging young people to joyfully embrace science as an essential component of their everyday lives by providing children with exhibits and events that were both fun and informative.

During this time, in 1993, a group of community leaders interested in establishing the Children's Museum of Dayton organized a steering committee to investigate the notion. This group felt that a children's museum could reach youngsters from the ages of two to twelve and develop a love of learning that would last a lifetime, in addition to an appreciation for the world they live in. To accomplish this goal, the organization established a governing board, initiated a mobile outreach program, showed model exhibits, and started making plans for a permanent home in the downtown area of Dayton. A great post. 

As the Children's Museum movement acquired more notoriety, the striking similarities between its guiding concept and the aim of the Museum of Natural History grew more and more apparent. In the summer of 1995, the Board of Directors of the Children's Museum and the Board of Directors of the Dayton Society of Natural History started discussing ways to work together. In January of 1996, the upshot of these conversations was an enthusiastic agreement to ultimately consolidate boards under cover of the Dayton Society of Natural History *. The Dayton Museum of Natural History was merged into what is now known as the Dayton Museum of Discovery, which took on all of the public, educational, and programmatic responsibilities that the Dayton Museum of Natural History formerly held.

Phases I and II of an elaborate exhibition master plan have been completed. The board had commissioned a professionally produced display master plan that would consider the resources and potential of both organizations. In honor of Oscar Boonshoft, one of the Museum of Discovery's most devoted supporters, the institution's name was officially changed to the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery in January of 1999.


The Dayton Society of Natural History is responsible for the care and preservation of around 1.8 million artifacts and specimens across various fields. The Anthropology Collection is the biggest of our collections (it has 1.4 million objects), and the majority comprises archaeological specimens. These specimens were unearthed at the SunWatch Indian Village/Archaeological Park. The 280,000 examples of the Biology Collection contain various animals, plants, and insects, mainly insects. Many rocks, minerals, and fossils may be found in our Geology Collection, which has 15,000 specimens. The Astronomy Collection consists of several dozen meteorites, and our Live Animal Collection comprises over one hundred animals, including foreign and local species. These animals are shown in several parts of the museum, including the Discovery Zoo. A porcupine and an agouti from South America are two exotic species now on display, along with meerkats from Africa, a red-tailed boa, and many more. There are enormous animals like otters and little critters like turtles and salamanders among the local species that have been documented and described.

They take great satisfaction in curating many items and specimens, yet the holdings of each of their collections are varied and intriguing in their own right. It's possible that a single object or a group of pieces is the most exciting part of our collections because of their age, appearance, or scientific worth.

A fragment of the "Dayton Meteorite," widely considered one of the most peculiar and well-known meteorites ever discovered, may be found in their Astronomy Collection. This meteorite is the only known location in their solar system where two minerals may be discovered that are only present in this meteorite. In addition, the collection has a copy of Galileo's telescope, one of just four telescopes in the world that have been faithfully reproduced from the original.

The highlights of the Anthropology Collection include the extensive SunWatch archaeological and historic Native American items; large groups from Ancient Egypt (including a human mummy), Japan; the Philippines, Oceania, and China. The collection's other world areas include Japan, the Philippines, Oceania, and China. Check out the White Paper for the Lichliter Site below.

In their biology collection, they take care of several specimens from species that are no longer around but were not at the time they were collected. Some of these species are now considered endangered or extinct. These items consist of two Passenger Pigeons, an egg from a Carolina Parakeet, and Ivory-billed Woodpeckers. They have a complete bird collection that dates back to the 1800s and several insect-type specimens, the John W. VanCleve herbarium collection, which dates from the late 1800s, and we also have a collection of insects.

Visit their website or contact them at (937) 275-7431 for additional details.
Up next is Dayton Art Institute >>>

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