Museum Info

Boonshoft Museum of

2600 DeWeese Parkway
Dayton, OH 45414
(937) 275-7431
Fax (937) 275-5811
TTY (937) 278-6076

Directions & Map


Monday – Saturday
9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
12:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.

Closed: New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, Chistmas Eve, Christmas Day, Easter

General Admission

Children (3-17) $11.50
Seniors (60+) $12.50
Adults $14.50
Children under 3 and members are FREE.
Help us create a fun, safe environment for all our visitors! Children under 16 should always be accompanied by an adult in the Museum.
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CFC #36476


Biology specimens

This Department is a repository for thousands of specimens from Ohio and around the world. Items are collected and preserved for scientific research and graduate studies.

Overview of the Biology Department

The Biology Collections department is a repository for thousands of specimens from Ohio and around the world. The purpose of this department is to preserve specimens for scientific research, graduate studies, for other science-related research, and so that future generations can see what kinds of species we had in Ohio at one time. The goal of this department is to protect these specimens from heat, humidity, and insect predation so that they will be here for years to come.

Within our collection, we have 2 Ivory-billed woodpeckers, a Carolina parakeet egg (now extinct), and 2 passenger pigeons (now extinct), among other fascinating specimens. The Ivory-billed woodpecker was thought to be extinct for over 60 years, until recently. On February 11, 2004, Gene Sparling was kayaking in the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge and saw an Ivory-billed woodpecker fly over his kayak and land in a nearby tree. He contacted some birding friends of his and before he knew it, there were scientists combing the Big Woods of Arkansas for Ivory-billed woodpeckers. They have now been spotted by a few select peo ple, but they are believed to no longer be extinct. For more information on the Ivory-billed woodpecker, check out and click on the Ivory-billed woodpecker link.

Butterfly SpecimensThe Biology Collections also holds the entire John W. VanCleve collections which are plants that were collected in the late 1800’s. John W. VanCleve was the first male child to be born in Dayton and became the first naturalist of the area. The Biology Collections Department is now in the process of photographing this entire collection so that it can be digitally preserved. We hope to make this collection available on the Internet in the near future so that people from around the country can enjoy it

We also have an impressive collection of songbirds and other types of birds. Many of our bird specimens date back to the Victorian Era, when ladies actually used to wear dead birds on their heads! Some people also used to put dead songbirds in display cases and place the cases in their homes for people to see. Because of this practice, in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s, many species of birds were starting to disappear. Because of 2 ladies that were appalled by this practice, birds were soon banned from being killed to be worn on hats or put into cases for display.

Biology SpecimensThe Biology Collections has about 200,000 insect specimens, and thousands of species of fish, reptiles, amphibians, plants, and fungi. We also have an impressive teaching collection that we use for school programs in and out of the museum.

To keep track of all of these specimens, we have every donor fill out an Accession Form stating their name, address, and when and where they found the specimen. It is very important for us to get all of the data on each specimen that is donated so that it will be useful for science. Then it will be catalogued into our Biology Collections or it will be used for teaching. The specimen, its number, and all of its data will then be entered into our database on the computer.

Sonoran Desert

Sonoran DesertThere are many creatures that thrive in the Sonoran Desert. Long–nosed bats feed on cactus, Gila woodpeckers feed on the insects found in the cactus, snakes feed on small lizards and insects and roadrunners feed on snakes. The desert is home to thousands of species of animals that have adapted to live in this dry environment.

Come to the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery and visit a desert right here in Ohio. Pretend to be a tortoise in our giant tortoise shell, listen to desert sounds while learning about the desert ecosystem, and be sure to visit our desert tortoises, Paco and Sagundo, in the Sonoran Desert.

Mead Treehouse (sponsored by the Mead WestVaco Corporation Foundation)

Mead TreehouseExplore the Treehouse and learn why trees are so vital to humans while you admire the paintings on the walls and do the interactive activities. Learn about different species of trees, how to tell their age, what products are made from trees, and how humans have affected trees in the past. When you walk into the Treehouse, you can explore the inside of an apple tree and even look below the tree to see what lives underneath. Then, take a look at the cross-section of a redwood tree and track the history of the United States as you look at the rings of the tree. Discover the many different species that live in a forest by looking at the forest on the wall and learning what lives there. Learn how humans affect trees everyday by cutting them down for development or for coal production. Stop by our interactive tree, sit on a toadstool seat, and learn about trees by computer.

Then, step into the “outside” area of the Treehouse and learn what products are made from trees like rubber bands, maple syrup, and chocolate. Find out what types of wildflowers are found in the forest and how paper is made.

Mead TreehouseTake a look outside from the Treehouse and watch the beautiful, Ohio birds at our birdfeeders. You may even spy the resident Cooper’s hawk outside. It’s a great spot to just sit, relax, and watch the birds. You can even volunteer to participate in Project FeederWatch, a national program through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology that utilizes the public to watch birds at their feeders and turn in the data for scientific study. You can help us out by coming in once or twice a week to watch the birds outside and collect data. You would be part of a huge scientific study! If you are interested, call Donna Lewis, the Assistant Curator of Biology, at x114. For more information on how you can conduct this study at home, check out You can also help us monitor our bluebird houses by the Coovert Pond, located near the front parking lot. Let us know if you are interested.

MeadWestvaco Logo


Q. I have a spider in my house. Is it venomous?

A. It is most likely that you do not have a venomous spider in your house. There are only 2 types of venomous spiders in the state of Ohio; these are the black widow and the brown recluse. Neither of these types of spiders is usually found in this area. Most of the spiders found in the Miami Valley are harmless. Even if they do have any kind of venom, their jaws are not large enough to fit around our thick skin. Although you may not want spiders in your house, spiders are very useful to have around your house. Spiders are a very efficient predator, killing tons of insect pests everyday. It is much better to have spiders around your house than to have harmful insects in your house.

Q. I have a bat in my house. What should I do?

A. First of all, don’t try to kill it. By state law, bats are a protected animal. Bats, like the big brown bat, will often get into peoples’ homes accidentally. They can fit in a hole as small as ¼ inch, but then they do not know how to get out. If the bat is flying around, the best thing to do is to open a door or window, turn down the lights, and wave your hand in the air, going towards the bat as you do this. Try to get the bat to fly towards the opening. This will usually work.

If the bat is hanging on your wall, put on some thick, work gloves, get a small dish towel, and get the bat to go into a paper bag. Making sure the bat is at the bottom of the bag, fold the top and take him outside. You will want to put the bag on top of something high so that the bat can just fly out. You can also take a shoebox and put it over the bat and then slide a piece of paper underneath of him. Then, take the box outside and put it on something high that he can just fly off of.

You may then want to check and see if there is a hole somewhere in which the bat is getting in. There is a way to keep the bats out of your house by sealing the hole. For tips on how to keep bats out of your house, go to

Q. I have found a very rare butterfly specimen. Would you like to purchase it to put in your collection?

A. First of all, if the butterfly is a live specimen, we encourage you to put the animal back outside where it was found. The museum does not take animals out of the wild. Second, although I am sure that you have found a beautiful butterfly or moth of some kind, we cannot purchase anything for the Biology Collections. The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is a non-profit organization and does not have a budget to purchase specimens from the public. If the specimen is deceased, and it is in good shape, we may take it as a donation to the collection.

Q. I am a teacher for a local school and would like to borrow some insect specimens from the Biology Collection. Would I be able to do this?

A. The Collections Department does allow teachers and other professionals to borrow certain specimens from our collections for a short period of time. We do not allow individuals from the public to borrow specimens, though. We also do not allow anyone to borrow some of our rarer specimens like the ivory-billed woodpecker or passenger pigeon. To borrow from our collections, there are a few stipulations that must be followed. 1) Any specimen borrowed from the Biology Collections must not be touched. Oils from fingers can damage things like feathers from birds and our insect specimens are very fragile and easily broken. The person borrowing the specimen must wear gloves if he/she has to touch the item. 2) The Collections Department does need at least a 2 week notice if anything is to be borrowed. Please note that the curators have to prepare the specimen to be borrowed. 3) The person borrowing the specimen must make an appointment to come in and pick it up. The curators are not always in the building, so you must make an appointment. 4) You must fill out an Outgoing Loan Agreement to borrow the specimen.

Q. A baby bird fell out of its nest and is sitting on the ground. What should I do with it? I heard that if I touch it, the mother will not come back.?

A. First of all, touching the baby bird will not prevent the mother bird from taking care of it. Most birds have no sense of smell. Plus, their mothering instinct is so strong that they will usually not abandon their young. The best thing to do for that baby is to put it back in its nest right away. First, check to make sure that he is not bleeding or injured in some other way. If it is healthy, put the bird back in the nest and leave the area so the mother can come back. Watch for an hour or so from a distance and make sure the mother is coming back to the nest. If you think there is a problem, call the museum.

If the nest is too high, make an artificial nest! Take an old hanging planter or basket and wire it onto a protected spot in the tree, as close to the nest as possible. Put some tissues or a pillow case in the basket and place the baby inside. The mother bird should still come down to feed the baby bird in the artificial nest.

People find thousands of baby animals in their yards in the spring. Often, these animals are picked up and people try to take care of them in their homes. This is not a wise thing to do. Often, these animals do not survive or they become too difficult to handle. Besides, it is illegal to take any wild animal into your home and take care of it. The best thing to do is to put the babies back in the nest or just leave the animal alone. If you are wondering what you should do, call the Biology Collections Department at x114 or the Live Animal Department at x118. You can help out wild animals the most by just leaving them alone.

Q. My son found a bone and he would like it identified. Can I just stop into the museum and have someone identify it for me?

A. Although we enjoy helping people out when they find something cool and unusual. The first thing you should do is to try to find the bone on the Internet or go to the library and look for it in a reference guide. This will help your son learn a lot more than if you came in and just had it identified. If you cannot identify it on your own, please call the museum and make an appointment with the Biology Collections Department. If you just stop in and expect to talk to the Curator, you may be disappointed. Often, the curators are out of the building or they are busy and can’t come down to talk to you. Making an appointment will ensure that you get to talk to someone when you come in. Please call Donna Lewis, Assistant Curator of Biology, at x114 with any biology-related inquiries.

Did You Knows:

Did You Know?
You can participate in a nationwide study of songbirds with the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology with Project FeederWatch. All you have to do is come in 1 – 2 times a week, sit in the Mead Treehouse, observe songbirds, and record the data. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology uses this data to see how the songbird populations are doing around the U.S. Call 937-275-7431 x114 for more details.

Did You Know?
There are only 2 types of venomous spiders in Ohio. These are the called the black widow and the brown recluse, neither of which is usually found in or around your house. Most of the spiders that you find in your house are harmless to people and are good at keeping insect pests down. When you find a spider in your home, try to put it outside instead of stomping on it.

Did You Know?
It is illegal to keep any wild animal as a pet. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources makes it illegal to keep wild animals as pets to protect the animal and to protect human health. Some wild animals can have rabies or other viruses that can be transmitted to people or to our pets. Even if you find a turtle, observe it from a distance and leave it alone. Wild animals are much “happier” in the wild. The Boonshoft Museum has wildlife because they have been injured in some way or they are too tame to be released. The museum also has permits to have these animals.

Did You Know?
Most of the time, a baby wild animal found in the wild does not need human assistance. Often, the mother is nearby and will come back to take care of the baby. For instance, deer will leave their babies for 4 hours at a time. The baby will sit still that entire time, waiting for his mother to return. Eastern cottontails will usually only feed their babies 2 times a day; early morning and early evening. Just because you don ’t see the mother rabbit, does not mean she’s not coming back to the nest. If you find a baby rabbit that can hop around, it is old enough to be on its own. Don’t mess with it. Baby robins are often picked up when they are fledglings, learning to hunt and fly on their own. If you see a young robin just hopping around on the ground, its parents are usually nearby.

Did You Know?
Feeding bread to ducks and geese can be very hazardous to their health. Although it is a lot of fun to feed bread to waterfowl at the nearby park, it is very bad for them. When geese eat too much bread, it becomes congealed in their crop. It can get so bad, that other food cannot pass through to the stomach. If the animal is not able to digest enough food, it will starve to death.

Another thing that happens when geese are fed too much bread is that they tend to stay in Ohio for the winter instead of migrating. Canada geese are migrating birds that will often travel down to Georgia or another warmer state when the temperatures get too cold. In recent years, Canada geese have not been migrating like they are supposed to. Scientists think that it is because people are feeding them too much and it causes the geese to stay.

You can also have problems with geese if you encourage them to stay in places like your yard. Geese can be very messy if you have too many of them hanging around.

If you or your child insists on feeding the ducks and geese at the park, buy some cracked corn to feed them instead of bread. It is much better for them.

Link to staff

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Link to other relevant sites

Bat Conservation International:

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

TTrilobitehe Humane Society of the United States

The Glen Helen Raptor Center

Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Project FeederWatch)

The American Bird Conservancy

The Jane Goodall Institute

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Under Construction

  • Kids' Playce is currently under construction. Look for brand new additions to this exhibit starting in the fall through early 2016!

What is your favorite exhibit at the Museum?

Science On a Sphere® - 23.3%
Water Properties Table - 20.3%
Cassano’s Pizza Kitchen - 21.6%
Recycling Center - 16.6%
The Courthouse - 8.5%