Boonshoft Museum of Discovery
The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is a children's museum in Dayton, Ohio, United States that focuses on science. Exhibits include an extensive natural history collection as well as maintaining a collection of live animals native to Ohio. Educational outreach extends to the community by providing in-school programming and on-site special programs. SunWatch Indian Village is a sister site to the museum. The Museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM), affiliated with the Association of Children's Museums (ACM), and is a governing member of the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC). In addition, the museaum's indoor Discovery Zoo is fully accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The museum is the only zoo, aquarium, planetarium or science center in Dayton, and also houses the Apollo Observatory, an astronomical observatory operated by the Miami Valley Astronomical Society.

The Dayton Museum of Natural History began in 1893 as a part of the Dayton Metro 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. In 1991 the museum added a Digistar II Planetarium to its facilities. 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. 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. (The Dayton Society of Natural History is the parent organization of the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery and its sister organization, SunWatch Indian Village"a museum of the area's 12th century Fort Ancient culture"and Finley Nature Preserve, which is not open to the public.) 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. 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.

Permanent museum exhibits
is a 68-inch-diameter (1.7 m) globe, suspended in mid-air, capable of showing dynamic visualizations of Earth and space. It also has the capability of showing commercial air traffic around the world while presenting other things such as turtle migrations. is an exhibit where interactive learning can take place about the solar system. Also contains the Exoplanet Exploration exhibit. consists of a play grocery store, court house, veterinary clinic, recycling center, and more where children can learn, roll play, and interact with hundreds of different pieces to learn more about associated topics within each setting. is an exhibit that contains a water table where children can learn about water and its properties, a manipulative area where children can learn about points, lines, and curves through rubber band art, a demonstrative laboratory, and several other interactive areas. is an exhibit that contains a mummy donated to the museum from Egypt, and other African pieces. is an exhibit that contains glowing rocks that children can interact with. is a fully enclosed tree house where children can learn about environmental preservation and use binoculars to do bird watching through windows within the tree house. is an exhibit that contains live sea water specimins such as sea stars, sea anemones, sea cucumbers, and gumboot chitons. The exhibit is run by a museum employee. is an exhibit that contains thousands of real specimens such as animal skeletons, shells, and fossils. Also located in the exhibit are several live specimins that include a burmese python, an emerald tree boa, hissing cockroaches, and tarantulas. Along with these things are many science related children's books. is an indoor zoo that is fully accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) that showcases mammals, reptiles, birds, and amphibians that are native to Ohio. The zoo has a prairie habitat, a temperate forest habitat, and a wetland habitat, and is home to nearly one hundred animals including a bobcat, coyote, and North American river otters. Although the museum does not itself rehabilitate injured animals, many of the animals, including the zoo's two river otters, came to the zoo after being injured in the wild and rehabilitated elsewhere, and would be unable to survive on their own. The Discovery zoo was renovated in 2010 to expand its capacity and recreate a new style to the zoo. The project also included the addition of around 18 new species of animals to the zoo. The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is one of only four museums in the United States that are accredited as an official zoo. The project came at a cost of $1 million.

The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is a popular spot for school field trips. In addition to school field trips, the museum has a program called Exhibits-To-Go which are a set of exhibits that can be taken directly to school classrooms in the Dayton area. Each day the staff presents special programs such as hands-on science experiments, otter feedings, Planetarium shows, story times and bird watching (at the Mead Tree House), Science on a Sphere live presentations, and visits with live animals.

The Museum hosts many special events each year. Some of these, such as the Kids New Year's Eve Party and Howl-O-Ween, ShamROCK, and Voyage on the Parkway, but the Education Department also holds large scale activities in support of Biology, Nanotechnology and Chemistry, and the Astronomy Department holds Astronomy Day and special Friday night star gazing events.

The future
In 2010, NASA awarded more than $800,000 to the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery for the creation of an Exoplanet Exploration exhibit. Along with the museum's permanent exhibits, there are also traveling exhibits that are commonly presented at the museum.

Building Activity

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