Big Boonshoft Museum anniversaries are on the horizon.

By Jim Bucher

The Dayton Society of Natural History will celebrate two anniversaries: the 125th anniversary of the founding of its collection, plus the 60th anniversary of its current location in Dayton.

Get this: the Dayton Society of Natural History currently preserves 1.7 million items that include artifacts and specimens in the areas of anthropology, biology, geology, astronomy and even live animals.

Founded in 1893, the Dayton Society of Natural History collection is used for display and education as well as ongoing research. It was built through a combination of donations and local archaeological fieldwork and is held in trust for future generations to continue to learn and explore our past. The collection includes millions of historical items and an insect collection that’s unbelievable.

The second anniversary being celebrated is the establishment of the current museum building, which was dedicated on April 27, 1958.

The land on which the museum now stands was planned and completed after the city of Dayton donated 10 acres on Ridge Avenue. It was reoriented to DeWeese Parkway in 1991.

“These significant anniversaries give the society the opportunity to not only reflect on where we have been but also where we are headed,” says Mark J. Meister, president and CEO of the Dayton Society of Natural History. “While museums may seem static—and the past set in stone—we know as researchers, archaeologists, scientists and historians that we are constantly re-evaluating what we think we know.”

The celebration will begin in January 2018 with the opening of an exhibition: “Explorers!” This will show in the main exhibit hall at the Boonshoft Museum and be available to the public until mid-August.

This special exhibition will be curated in-house, taking advantage of more than a 100 years of protecting and preserving the past by showcasing some of the premier artifacts and specimens in the collection. This exhibition will use items from the collection plus dynamic, hands-on interactives to explore five regions of our world. There is simply a lot of cool stuff. Items in the exhibition will range from an authentic mummy to a set of samurai armor.

The society—which is now known as the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, SunWatch Indian Village/Archaeological Park and Fort Ancient Earthworks and Nature Preserve—has a long and unique history, all beginning as The Dayton Public Library Museum in 1893.

So, I’m giving our fine readers plenty of time to plan.

Now, speaking of the Boonshoft, back in my teenage years I was a volunteer there.

At the time youngsters could feed and clean the live animal displays. They had otters, a fox and this turkey vulture named Horrence who was old as dirt 40 years ago.

For some odd reason the vulture did not take a liking to me. I can say the feeling was mutual. He had a clasp on his leg tethered to a chain.

As I was shoveling his droppings I got a little too close for comfort and he pecked me on the head. Now, not sure if anyone out there has suffered the same fate, but trust me it hurt. Like a nail and hammer sort of hurt.

I recovered from my wound, with a small battle scar, but every time I’d visit over the next few decades he’d give me the evil eye.

Like thousands of youngsters this was our first introduction to science and how our world works together cohesively.

With interactive exhibits, things you can feel, touch, climb on and into, it’s such a wonderful place to learn, explore and, of course, have fun. And it’s for kids of all ages.

After 125 and 60 years the mission continues.

Cheers and Happy Birthday! (albeit early.)

– Buch

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