Started in 1893, as a part of the Dayton Public Library and Museum, the Dayton Museum of Natural History traces its early roots. The early exhibits consisted of artifacts and collections that residents of Dayton gathered on trips around the world and then donated to the museum. A group of citizens formed the Dayton Society of Natural History in 1952, took charge of the collections and organized them into the Dayton Museum of Natural History. The main building was completed in 1958, and a planetarium and additional exhibit space and an expanded collection were added in 1991.
In 1993, with the intent of forming a children's museum, a group of interested citizens and community leaders banded together and formed a committee. The idea was to imbibe children ages 2-12, with a lifelong love of learning and to form an appreciation for the world around them. As the idea gained momentum, the organization realized it shared a similar mission with the Dayton Museum of Natural History. In the summer of 1995, the Children's Museum Board and the Board of the Dayton Society of Natural History formed a merger, resulting in the birth of the Dayton Museum of Discovery. The name was changed to the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery in 1999, to honor Oscar Boonshoft one of the museums most devoted friends.
The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery features exhibits dedicated to a creative balance between fun and learning. The displays are designed to engage visitors and make learning about the subject matter interesting and informing. The exhibits are selected 3-4 years in advance and are chosen by the Society's Exhibit Committee.
The Oscar Boonshoft Science Central exhibit features a Do-Lab, an area where children can do experiments with a knowledgeable staff member from the Education Department. In the Science Central exhibit area is a Bernoulli Blower, which is a large sphere which appears to be suspended in mid-air with no ropes, poles or plates. Kids are invited to learn about the properties of air molecules in a very exciting and entertaining way. Also found in the Science Central exhibit area is a water table, a manipulative area, a color wall, construction zone and a gravitron.
The Boonshoft Museum has a collection of more than 100 animals and insects scattered all over the museum. The Charles E. Exley, Jr. Wild Ohio Zoo exhibit showcases animals native to the state of Ohio. The zoo area has a prairie habitat, a temperate forest habitat and a wetland habitat, each containing a wide array of animal and plant life.
Other permanent exhibits of notable interest are Explorers Crossing, the Mead Tree House, That Kid's Playce designed for toddlers, the African Room, the Vectran Glowing Geology display, the Sonoran Desert, the Bieser Discovery Center, the Tidal Pool, the Computer Center and the Three-Story Climbing Tower and Slide.
While the museum has several permanent exhibits, the facility also offers a number of interactive and interesting temporary exhibits showcased throughout the year. Exhibits at the museum are focused on a broad range of scientific and educational disciplines and designed to appeal to the diverse mix of guests who visit each year.
The Boonshoft Museum is opened Monday through Friday from 9 am until 5 pm, and Saturday from 11 am until 5pm and on Sunday from 12 pm until5 pm. The facility is closed on New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Easter.