Celebrating Life’s Milestones with the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, SunWatch, and Fort Ancient


As the holiday season wraps up and winter moves in, it is fun to reflect upon the many ways our members and their guests have shared their lives and celebrations with us here at the Boonshoft, SunWatch, and Fort Ancient.  Aside from daily trips to just be at the museum, members can rent any of our three sites to celebrate these special moments in their lives.

Birthday Parties:

The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery hosts birthday parties on Saturdays and Sundays from 1pm-3pm.  The generous birthday package starts with sharing the day at the museum with 50 of your child’s friends and family members and a private room for celebrating in.  Enhance your day by adding on one of our add-on options, like a private planetarium show or lego bin.  Is your child interested in animals and their welfare?  They can host an Adopt an Animal Party and sponsor one of our Discovery Zoo Residents.   And for the older child, a gift of the Junior Zookeeper experience or Adoption at one of our higher levels of sponsorship just might spark that lifelong love of veterinary science!

Make sure to get a jump on that birthday planning, because parties book 6-8 weeks in advance!

Wedding photo


One of the special things about being an institution since 1958 is that generations of children and adults have made their way through our doors.  Many of these children grow into adults with fond memories of their time here and want to incorporate that into their next big milestone, weddings!  The Boonshoft and Sunwatch are both excellent wedding venues for ceremonies and receptions.  Each wedding couple brings its own unique story to share with us.  Sometimes it’s the memory of a treasured family member who used to bring them here.  Some of our couples met each other here or shared an important experience here while dating.  The staff at the Boonshoft tries to tie in those special memories during your time here with us.  Whether it’s meeting up close and personal with Patience the sloth right before heading into your reception or rocking out to your favorite metal band in the planetarium, each of our weddings are memorable, to say the least!

Special Events:

When it comes to holidays, parties abound!  But you don’t just have to be celebrating the holidays to enjoy a good time at the Boonshoft, Sunwatch, or Fort Ancient.  From small training sessions to corporate family days and nonprofit events, the Dayton Society of Natural History has your next work event or large celebration covered.  Why spend the afternoon in a meeting or conference room when you could be talking about expense reports while watching otters play?  Bring your work family here and celebrate with us!

Amanda Egloff is the Rentals Coordinator for the Dayton Society of Natural History.


So You Want to See the Total Solar Eclipse This August


Chances are you’ve heard that a rare astronomical event is happening on August 21; a total eclipse of the Sun.  Not only is it rare (there hasn’t been one visible from the Miami Valley since 831 CE), it is also spectacular!  Indeed, eclipse expert Fred Espenak,  who has been under the moon’s shadow more than twenty times, says “In rating natural wonders, on a scale of 1 to 10 a total solar eclipse is a million.”



Total Solar Eclipse In France 1999   (Luc Viatour/wwwLucnix.be)


From Dayton this August we’ll see a deep partial eclipse—close, but no cigar.  We will get to see a total (or totality) solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, but if you’re impatient or don’t want to risk bad weather, you’ll want to travel down to Kentucky or Tennessee to see this year’s eclipse.

Here are three things you need to know:

  1. Do not expect to find a hotel, campground, or any other kind of accommodations whatsoever within driving distance of the eclipse path.

When it’s been forty years since the last American total solar eclipse, people who have been looking forward their entire lives to this got their reservations in early—up to three years ago!  So plan to sleep in your car, if at all.

  1. Do expect that traffic will be horrible that morning.

Everyone else who realized at this late date that there are no accommodations available will be driving in the morning of.  The eclipse happens around 2:30 p.m. or so in the afternoon, varying a little by location. You want to get into the path of totality many hours before that, lest you risk being stuck in traffic outside of totality.

  1. Do know that the eclipse is definitely worth taking a day off work, pulling the kids out of school, and putting up with nasty logistics to go see in person!

One cannot overemphasize how impressive a total solar eclipse is.  Photographs like this one do not do it justice.  Everyone has a limited number of opportunities to see a total solar eclipse in their lifetime, and everyone who sees one remembers it for the rest of their life!


                        Solar Eclipse Map Across Kentucky                       (GreatEclipse.Com © Michael Zeiler 2014)

So my suggestion is this: plan to drive down in the pre-dawn hours of August 21, map out state highways that are less likely than interstates to be congested, and plan to see the eclipse from a box-store parking lot or a similar easily-accessed location.  But if you decide to stay in the Miami Valley, come on down to the Boonshoft Museum that day for all sorts of fun, eclipse activities for our partial eclipse!

Visit https://www.greatamericaneclipse.com for more on this topic.

Delightful Stocking Stuffers at Discoveries Gift Shop


The Boonshoft Museum’s Discoveries Gift Shop is the perfect place for doing your upcoming holiday shopping. We all share that person or two on our list who are just hard to shop for. You rack your brain, time and time again, with little success as you search for playful, educational Stocking Stuffers. What the doctor ordered is a shopping trip to the fun and unique gift shop at the Boonshoft Museum.

The Discoveries Gift Shop offers special, one-of-a-kind gifts designed to entertain and


Dino Transporter Truck

challenge young minds at the same time. Your young Einsteins could be playing with Carded Science Kits, Boxed Arrowheads and Shark Teeth, and reading books that make them think. Discoveries Gift Shop carries books about lots of scientific topics. Have a son or daughter who is curious about robots? How about that nerdy young mad-scientist with a thing for chemistry, destined to turn your house into a smoking ash heap?

At the top of this year’s under $10 Stocking Stuffers list sits the Ty-Beanie Babies, Beanie Boos, and Teeny Ty’s, as well as Carded Science Kits and a variety of die-cast toys, including a Dino Transporter Truck. The Pocket Volcano, Tornado Tube, and Lemon Clock are all bargains at $4.99; but you just HAVE to sample the Astronaut Ice Cream (yes, it is a thing!); and we really don’t want to forget the Jumbo Dino Hatch Egg.


Hand Warmer Mugs

For the adult geeks in the mix, choose from among gifts under $15, like the charming Hand Warmer Mugs that come left or right-handed, Birthstone Soap Bars (betcha didn’t see that one coming!), a Fox Mug, and Salt and Pepper Shakers. There’s the Woodpecker Stapler, a cute Otter Tape Dispenser, and some quirky, colorful socks. The socks are adorned with images of either a Tyrannosaurus-Rex, or our beautiful planet Earth, or a selection of many other designs that I’ll bet you won’t find anywhere else!

Discoveries Gift Shop has lots of items of interest for explorers of all ages. If you still can’t decide, purchase a gift card and let those fussy folks choose their own gifts.

If any of these Stocking Stuffer gift ideas sound like winners to you, the Boonshoft Museum’s Discoveries Gift Shop is where you need to be this holiday season. Also, don’t forget to let us know you are a member to take advantage of your 10% to 20% discount! The Boonshoft Museum’s Discoveries Gift Shop will be closed as always on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Travel The World Without Leaving the MidWest!

DMNH_1958_Roberts Pump Building location at 251 E. Second Street, 1941-1958

The Dayton Museum of Natural History, 1958

While we’re only pretty sure that time travel isn’t an actual “thing” yet, the next best option for aspiring explorers may just be to visit a Museum!  From ancient artifacts and rare oddities to countless extinct specimens of animals that no longer roam the world, you can find a wide variety of history from across the globe at your local Natural History Museum.  Many Daytonians remember the Boonshoft Museum as the Dayton Museum of Natural History, when its cornerstone was its vast Collection of artifacts and specimens.  What many may not know is that our Collections remain a crucial aspect of the Boonshoft Museum today, as many of these items can be found in current exhibits, while the rest are maintained for future use and research.

With 1.7 million artifacts and specimens, there is something for all ages and interests to explore. Some of the most popular items include rare prehistoric fossils, skeletal remains of animals that existed during the Ice Age (Mammoth, Dire Wolf, Saber-Toothed Cat), gorgeous handmade jewelry, meteorites, Native American textiles, mummy remains, historic weapons, ancient pottery, and even a shrunken head.


Map of the origins of all of our Collection’s pieces, click to enlarge.

Taking a tour of our Collection is literally a trip through time and across the world—which means our staff always jump at the chance to take a tour in order to familiarize them with the Museum. “Each time there is a good number of new staff, you can count on our Curators to host a tour of our Collection. I go every single time because there is always something I haven’t seen and it gives me the chance to experience things that I won’t ever see except for maybe in a book. Our Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, for instance, is extinct, but we have one in our Collection and it is special every time I see it, in addition to all of the other pieces of local and world history,” noted Erika Asher, Development Assistant at the Boonshoft Museum.

So, tell your friends and family to get ready to embark on a world tour through time, except you won’t need to pack a bag or cross an ocean. For the first time, we are opening our collection vaults to the public for extensive, behind-the-scenes tours. These tours are guided by our knowledgeable curators and available to small groups of up to eight people. Tours last 90 minutes and vary between $150-$200, depending on the number of people in your party. All proceeds from the private tours go to the preservation of our artifacts and the Boonshoft Museum’s mission.

You can learn more about the Museum’s Collection here.

You can start the process of booking a Private Tour here.

You can get a jump start on your “world travels” by seeing where all of our artifacts come from by clicking here.

Summer is a Great Time to Be a Member!

We’re counting down the minutes until summer begins and we bet you are too. There’s so much to do: plan your vacations, summer camps, family outings, activities, and more. The list could go on forever, even though the summer season is only three months long. If your goals is to have some great summer family experiences that keep the kiddos happy — and probably more importantly, keep you under budget — check out a Dayton Society of Natural History Membership!

New and current Members can maximize their Memberships this summer with so many things to do, see, and experience in just three short months:


The cost of a Museum Membership, transportation, and snacks (because everyone needs snacks!), can get you an entire summer of entertainment, family memories, and fun.

Here are some Dayton Society of Natural History summer highlights you won’t want to miss (bonus: everything listed below is either FREE for Members or Museum Members receive a discount).

New Exhibitions: Both the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery & SunWatch will welcome new exhibitions this summer. On June 4 the Amazing Butterflies opens at the Boonshoft Museum and Johnny Appleseed opens at SunWatch later on during the summer season. Members enjoy a special sneak preview of Amazing Butterflies from 9:00 a.m. – Noon on June 4 before it opens to the public.

Special Events: From Movie Nights at the Museum to the Keeping the Tradition Pow Wow hosted at SunWatch by the Miami Valley Council for Native Americans, there are some stellar events that you won’t want to miss this summer, here are some of the highlights:

Fort Ancient: Summer Solstice Sunrise on June 19, Nature Hike on July 9, Archaeology Day on July 16.

SunWatch: Keeping the Tradition Pow Wow on June 25-26, Kids’ Days throughout the summer.

Boonshoft Museum of Discovery: Movie Nights at the Museum (A Bug’s Life in June and Frozen in August), Red White & Boonshoft on July 4, and our Meerkat Mob’s Birthday on July 30.

To learn more or purchase a Membership, visit www.boonshoftmuseum.org.




Hip, Hip, Hooray!

Awards, accreditations, and knock outs–the staff at the Boonshoft Museum have been up to a lot this spring and we have some BIG news to share! Check out what we’ve been up to:

Hey, Hey AZA!

If you follow our Facebook or read our Member Magazine, you may have heard about our Live Animals staff and the rigorous re-accreditation process they participated in over the winter. The evaluation process is run by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and receiving such an accreditation means our Discovery Zoo, volunteers, and staff maintain the highest quality programming for our guests and the safest and happiest environment for our animals.

Through constant training, implementing best practices, and focusing on conservation and sustainability, we are happy to announce that we have received accreditation by the AZA through 2020. A HUGE congratulations to all of our Live Animals staff, volunteer animal handlers, and our Discovery Zoo crew! Come celebrate with us on Zoo Lover’s Day, this Friday, April 8. We’ll be doing special public programming with all of our endangered and threatened species and guests will be able to visit all of their favorite animal friends in the Discovery Zoo!

What does it take to become accredited? 

Click on the pictures to learn more.

And The Award Goes To…

The Boonshoft Museum! Each year, we make an appearance at the Ohio Museum Association Awards in some capacity, whether it’s an exemplary staff member who has done amazing work or something new and innovative we are doing at the Museum. This year we are proud to announce that our Graphics Department has won an award for outstanding work in graphic design and marketing. Sarah Aisenbrey, the Museum’s Registrar has also won an honorable mention for “Emerging Museum Professional of the Year”!

As a young professional in the museum field, the award of Honorable Mention for Emerging Professional of the Year from the Ohio Museums Association is a great honor. I am privileged to work in my field of choice and to have the opportunity to do what I love; receiving this award just solidifies my decision to become a museum professional,” said Aisenbrey.

Needless to say, we couldn’t be more proud of the hard work and dedication our staff show to their Departments and to the Museum’s mission as a whole!

One-Two Punch for Charity!


See Mackenzie at Knockout on April 9!

Dayton’s Original Knockout is back and our resident Paleontologist and Educator, Mackenzie English, has thrown his hat (well, lab goggles) into the ring! After training for weeks with the professionals and Knockout organizers at Drake’s Downtown Gym, Mackenzie will be going a few rounds this Saturday, April 9 at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds.

Not only will there be multiple bouts representing some of Dayton’s favorite businesses and organizations, there will be drinks, live music, and more! The best part about this boxing expo is that it packs a punch with a purpose; proceeds from this event are split between the Boonshoft Museum and the Parkinson’s Foundation. So, if you want to support two great non-profits and catch some exhibition boxing, be sure to learn more and purchase your tickets here.



STEM Skills: Everyone Needs Them.

It’s not a secret; here at the Boonshoft Museum, we love all things Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, and our goal is to inspire children and their families to do the same. While we’re in the business of engaging our guests with STEM education that will hopefully spark a lifetime of commitment to STEM fields of study, we realize that there are many children whose passion will lie outside of a traditional STEM Career–and that’s okay!

What is important, however, is for parents and children to understand that all jobs in the future will require STEM skills in some fashion, whether you’re a history teacher, small business owner, or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. You might remember reading about the importance of STEM from our Educators, but this time we asked our support and administrative staff just how much STEM they use in their jobs every day; and the answer? Much more than you think:


Families explore hands-on science.

Dona Vella , Vice President, Development and External Relations


Dona pitching in to help craft some Memberships in a Box

“Encouraging children to build science, technology, engineering, and math skills is a big part of our mission at the Boonshoft Museum, and while I understand that not all children will grow up and become mathematicians and physicists, it is important for current and future generations to have these STEM skills in order to flourish in their careers.

I use math every day to evaluate budgets, develop fundraising strategies, and analyze data. My entire team and I use technology to help us streamline and work more effectively. Because we rely on customers, committed sponsors, and generous donors in order to help us fulfill our mission, it is so important that we are good stewards of the funds that we receive, and by using technology, we are able to do that by working as efficiently as possible.”

Lauren Lemons, Communications Coordinator

“As the Museum’s Communications Coordinator, I am responsible for writing copy, digital marketing campaigns, and creative content, as well as evaluating metrics that pertain to our marketing platforms. My job starts with creativity, is implemented with technology, and is analyzed with math–so I would definitely say STEM is essential to doing my job successfully. I spend a lot of time working with graphics, editing and creating code, and using math to evaluate what makes our marketing campaigns successful.

In fact, though I do not have a traditional STEM job, like a doctor or engineer, I do have a Bachelor’s of Science in Marketing, which means I had to take a lot of business and economics-based math and science classes in college. I believe this has certainly come in handy in my career and makes me more well-rounded for my position here at the Museum. I would encourage anyone, no matter what career path they will eventually take, to seize every chance they have to hone their STEM skills, because all jobs will require some degree of STEM in the future.”

Angela Shaffer, Senior Manager, Guest Services and Gift Shops

As an English and Classical Humanities student in college, I didn’t anticipate managing a database in my post-college career! However, as the person responsible for managing the Society’s point-of-sale database, CounterPoint, that is exactly what I do on a daily basis. It is my job to ensure that anything the Society “sells”–including admissions tickets, memberships, gift shop merchandise, group visits, and Astronomy programs, just to name a few–is entered and managed properly within CounterPoint. It is extremely detail-oriented work that incorporates many other fields of study, such as information technology and accounting; I work closely with our business office and many other departments within the Society to make sure that all information is set up and managed correctly and that both software and hardware systems function fully. It’s challenging and rewarding work that requires a lot of STEM skills!”

Sarah Aisenbrey, Dayton Society of Natural History Registrar

“As the Registrar of the Dayton Society of Natural History, I work with many types of technology, including (and most importantly) our collections databases. Databases, which are computerized tables that keep track of information, are a technology you probably use every day–Facebook, Amazon, and Google are all typical examples. Even though the artifacts we curate can be thousands of years old, we use current technology to help us research, exhibit, publicize, and track all 1.7 million of them. Successfully mastering the use of collections databases takes a lot of skill–I have to be very organized, up-to-date on the newest technology, and ready to field questions about the collection at a moment’s notice. Practicing and constantly improving these skills has helped me to excel as the DSNH’s Registrar.”


Jill, our Associate Curator and Sarah, our Registrar, before the opening of Cut From the Same Cloth.

Jimmy Adams & Caleb Orecchio, Graphic Artists


Jimmy and one of our SAA externs in the African Room.

“Graphic Designers use technology every day, specifically Adobe Creative Suite. We also have to understand how to use the printing presses, use measurements for production, and I use a lot of math when working with budgets. I would say our job requires as much STEM as it does art and creativity.” – Jimmy Adams

“Besides the obvious use of technology, there is also a psychology that goes into creating advertising pieces. We use science, geometry, and color to make things pleasing the eye.” – Caleb Orecchio

Phillip Dunlevy, Facilities Supervisor

I need things like Technology, Engineering, and Math to get my job done and keep the Museum in top shape! Our power, HVAC, lights–they all run on computers. I also use a lot of math when measuring wood and steel to cut when there are things that need to be fixed around the Museum.”

Marge Forsthoefel, Supervisor, Accounting

“I’m not a scientist or engineer, but I do use math every single day in Accounting. Whether I am calculating sales tax reporting using different percentages for different counties in Ohio, accounts receivable, or balancing sales against cash, my job requires a lot of math and reasoning!

Because our sales come through a point-of-sale system, either at the Museum or online, I also need to understand how to use online sales reporting systems, credit card reporting systems, management information systems, and I need to export data in order to balance our daily sales. Accounting is no longer handwritten ledgers, but all done using accounting programs, which are most certainly technology-based.”


Erika, having a blast with our Education Crew



Erika Asher, Education Coordinator

“I’ve learned a lot about science and science-based concepts because I frequently have to talk to teachers about the programs that we provide to their students. I also do a lot of math when calculating numbers for programs, billing, etc.

Being well-versed in technology, specifically the use of databases, is something else that is necessary for my job. We keep schedules, membership information, and book programs with information that are all stored in databases.”

So, what did we learn? It’s safe to say that there isn’t a single staff member at the Boonshoft Museum that doesn’t use STEM in some form. Our goal? To make Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math so accessible to children and their families that STEM no longer seems like a burden or a challenge, but more like a fun tool children use to explore, problem solve, and invent. While we can’t expect all children to grow up to become the next Albert Einstein, we can provide children with some of the tools necessary to poise them for a future of unlimited successes and the confidence to become accomplished problem solvers, in whatever career they choose.

If you want to participate in some STEM fun at the Boonshoft Museum, consider signing up for Summer Discovery Camps or visit the Museum tomorrow, March 19, on Super Science Saturday, for a FREE day of fun, hands-on STEM activities!