DAYTON — Founded in 1958, the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is this area’s only natural history museum, science-technology center, children’s museum, planetarium, observatory and zoo.
With its myriad activities, exhibits and hands-on experiences, the interactive science learning museum is a popular destination that draws guests from all around the Miami Valley.
“Our annual attendance can fluctuate a bit from year to year, but (approximately) 170,000 is a good recent average,” said Kristy Creel, director of marketing and public relations for the Dayton Society of Natural History, the Boonshoft’s parent organization
In addition, the museum serves about 35,000 more people of all ages through school and community programs.
According to Creel, some of the most favored attractions for visitors to the Boonshoft include:
• The Discovery Zoo, home to more than 100 critters, including meerkats, river otters, a Linne’s two-toed sloth, bat-eared fox, kinkajou, and an assortment of birds, reptiles, and creepy, crawly insects.
The Jr. Zookeeper for the Day program allows young guests to get exclusive behind-the-scenes, hands-on experiences with the zoo’s animal ambassadors. The program is open to kids 4-13 with an accompanying adult, and youth 14 and older with written permission from a parent or guardian.
Programs are available from 9-11 a.m. the first and third Saturdays of each month, at a cost of $100 per participant. There is no additional fee to include one parent or guardian participant.
For more details about the Jr. Zookper program, go to http://boonshoftmuseum.org/exhibits/discovery-zoo.
• The Caryl D. Philips Space Theater, the Boonshoft’s planetarium, hosts daily live tours of the night sky, along with a variety of shows appealing to a wide range of visitors. Those include: “One World One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure,” “Wildest Weather in the Solar System,” “Did an Asteroid Really Kill the Dinosaurs?” and “SpacePark360.”
The Boonshoft’s astronomy department hosts both traditional planetarium shows and full-dome movies that are both educational and entertaining. Shows range from 15 to 40 minutes long and are suitable for all ages.
More information, including a planetarium schedule, can be found at http://boonshoftmuseum.org/experience-more/departments/astronomy.
• “Explorers!,” the current exhibition in the main exhibit hall, celebrates the 125th anniversary of the Dayton Society of Natural History’s collection, and runs through Aug. 28.
This exhibition charts a course through five geographic regions, ranging from Japan and Egypt to the Philippines, Ecuador, and the American Plains. Guests can stamp their passports in each area. These geographical areas were selection because the Society’s Collection includes a broad away of artifacts and specimens from these regions.
Learn more about “Explorers!” at http://boonshoftmuseum.org/exhibits/explorers.
Here are just a few of the many other offerings at the Boonshoft are:
• Splash! — An exhibition exploring explores the story of water in the Miami Valley, with lessons about aquifers, rivers, dams and other parts of the local water systems; how water is treated, distributed and managed; conservation efforts; and more.
• Science on a Sphere® — Take a tour of Earth and space by viewing a 68-inch-diameter carbon fiber globe suspended in mid-air, viewing some of the most dazzling astronomical phenomena in the galaxy.
• Kids Place — This sheltered space is for younger visitors, ages 4 and under, with tactile learning tools, interactive activities and a calm atmosphere.
The Boonshoft Museum also offers workshops, summer camps, Scout programs and a plethora of other experiences.
SPECIAL EVENTS AT THE BOONSHOFT
• Super Science Saturday
Each year, the Boonshoft Museum offers four dates with free admission from 10 to 4 p.m. These special days include access to the museum’s special exhibitions, space theatre shows and public programming. Remaining dates for this year are May 19, Aug. 18, and Nov. 17, which also will bring the annual Dayton Regional Science Festival to the museum.
• Sensory Sundays
The Sensory Sunday program offers extended hours for families with a member who has a sensory disorder, e.g., being on the autism spectrum. Lighting and sound are adjusted during these hours for a less stimulating environment, and trained volunteers/staff are on hand.
Advance tickets (for non-members) are $8 per person; tickets at the door are $9 per person. Admission for members is free, but advance registration is preferred, as ticketing will be limited. Same-day admission will be through the Education Lobby, located to the right of the main entrance.
Sensory Sundays are set for 9 a.m. to noon April 15, July 15, and Oct. 21.
Gamers, cosplayers, steampunkers, geeks, Trekkies, and nerds unite! Join the Boonshoft Museum from 6-10 p.m. Friday, April 20, for costume contests, vendors, demos, board games, trivia, hands-on experiments, prizes, and more.
The evening will include a new feature, Wizarding School, offering a crash course in potions, transfigurations, charms and more — plus a wand-making station. Other activities lined up for GeekFest include a scavenger hunt, a visit from the Real Ohio Ghostbusters, and a workshop with illustrator Nate Lovett, who has worked on projects including “Paw Patrol,” and “G.I. Joe.”
Tickets for GeekFest are $20 per person. All ages are welcome, but those under 17 must be accompanied by a parent.
IF YOU GO
The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is located at 2600 DeWeese Pkwy., Dayton. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Admission is $14.50 for adults; $12.50 for seniors (60 and up); $11.50 for children 3-17. Children under 3 and museum members are admitted free.
Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult (18 years or older) at all times.
For more information, call (937) 275-7431 or visit www.boonshoftmuseum.org.
Reach Belinda M. Paschal at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3341