Chic Spotlight: Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

Chic Spotlight: Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

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Ready to take your kids on a learning adventure? See why this Dayton hotspot is the place to go for a day of learning, fun, and so much more!


The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is a children’s museum dedicated to natural science and technology.

Cincy Chic: What’s is the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery?
Dawn Kirchner, Vice President of Education at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery: The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is a children’s museum, science and technology center, and zoo that focuses on science and natural history.

Cincy Chic: What’s the mission behind the Museum?
Kirchner: 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. 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 Boonschoft Museum of Discovery helps kids explore science and technology.

Cincy Chic: When did the museum open?
Kirchner: The Dayton Museum of Natural History began in 1893 as a part of the Dayton Public Library and Museum. Over the years, collections gathered by prominent Dayton citizens on their trips around the world were contributed to the museum. Local natural history collections were also contributed. In 1952, a group of citizens organized the Dayton Society of Natural History which took responsibility for the collections and transformed them into the Dayton Museum of Natural History. In 1958, the Museum of Natural History’s main building on Ridge Avenue was completed. In 1991, a new planetarium and expanded collection and exhibit space were added. The Society remained committed to the ideal of inspiring children to enthusiastically embrace science as a vital aspect of their lives through exhibits and programs that were both entertaining and educational.

Meanwhile, in 1993 a group of interested community leaders formed a steering committee to explore the idea of creating the Children’s Museum of Dayton. This group believed that a children’s museum could reach children ages two through twelve and instill in them a lifelong love of learning as well as an appreciation for the world around them. To this end, the group formed a governing board, launched a mobile outreach program, displayed model exhibits, and began planning for a permanent home in downtown Dayton.

As the Children’s Museum movement gained visibility, the similarity between its philosophy and the Museum of Natural History’s mission became very clear. In the summer of 1995, the Children’s Museum Board and Board of the Dayton Society of Natural History began discussing ways to collaborate. By January, 1996, these talks resulted in an enthusiastic agreement to fully merge boards under the umbrella of the Dayton Society of Natural History. As a result of the merger, the Dayton Museum of Discovery was born and assumed all public, educational and programming functions previously associated with the Dayton Museum of Natural History.

There’s also a zoo at the Museum.

The board commissioned a professionally-developed exhibits master plan that would take into account all of the resources and potential brought to the table by both organizations and by May 1999 Phases I and II of an extensive exhibits master plan had been completed.The name change to the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery occurred in January, 1999 in recognition of Oscar Boonshoft, one of the Museum’s most dedicated friends.

Cincy Chic: Can you tell us more about the Museum’s exhibits?
Kirchner: The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery’s Featured Exhibits are designed to mix engaging educational experiences with entertaining interactions. Visitors of all ages enjoy innovative subject matter that is easy to grasp, fun to explore, and allows visitors to discover their inner scientist, archaeologist, zoologist, and more!

The Museum’s Featured Exhibits are carefully selected by the Dayton Society of Natural History’s Exhibit Committee; ensuring the selected exhibitions come from a wide range of educational and scientific disciplines, in addition to staying relevant in light of societal trends and educational needs.

There are currently 13 exhibits in the Museum including our Tidal Pool, Science on a Sphere, Hall of the Universe, and the Bieser Discovery Center to name a few.

Cincy Chic: Where is the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery located?
Kirchner: You can find us at 2600 DeWeese Parkway in Dayton.

Cincy Chic: Where can readers go to learn more about the Museum and plan a visit?
Kirchner: Visit to learn more about the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery or to purchase tickets. Or you can follow along on Facebook and Instagram.

Sara Elliott
Editor & Director of Strategic Communications - Sara is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, with a bachelor's degree in English literature. Sara started as an editorial intern before working her way up to assistant editor and then editor. She also serves as the Director of Strategic Communications, running Cincy Chic's social media sites. When she's not working for Cincy Chic, Sara is a mom to her toddler, Audrey. To contact Sara, send her an email at