Photo: Michael Sampson
Photo: Michael Sampson

Daytonian of the Week: Michael Sampson, the man keeping Dayton excited about science

One of Dayton’s brightest spots is the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery— year-round events, exciting exhibits, a zoo, innovative children’s programs and a treasure trove of Dayton natural history. 

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It takes a talented and passionate person to keep all components of the Boonshoft working together in harmony. Michael Sampson — the Communications Manager at the Boonshoft, Sunwatch Indian Village and Fort Ancient — is a champion at doing just that. 

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Born and raised in Dayton, Sampson grew up enjoying all the things that make Dayton unique. The city shaped him into the arts man he still is to this day. Sampson’s interest in all things visual led him down a career path where his talents as both a communicator and an artist were able to blend beautifully. 

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Before beginning his journey at the Boonshoft three years ago, Sampson has held all of the following esteemed positions:

  • President of the Dayton Chapter of the National Conference of Artist’s Dayton Chapter
  • Involvement with the Ohio Arts Council
  • Recipient of the first Minority Arts Fellowship created by Arts Midwest (The purpose of the fellowship is to “mainstream” or introduce grass-roots minority arts managers to major organizations in an effort to diversify those institutions including: the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago and Spaces Gallery in Cleveland.) 
  • Public Relations manager for the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center for 15 years


We’re proud that Sampson chose to return to his hometown to keep Daytonians excited about the natural world around them. He is our Daytonian of the Week

🧬What is your most memorable day on the job? What happened? 

 “I would have to say it was Monday, August 21, 2017. That was the day of the total solar eclipse over the U.S. In Dayton we experienced a 90% partial eclipse, which was an awesome sight to behold. One thing that made it so special was that our extremely knowledgeable astronomy department shared their expertise, and the Museum’s solar equipment with the entire community. It was a fantastic event to see so many people gathered together at the Boonshoft excited about this once-in- a-lifetime astronomical occurrence.”

🧬Who is your favorite animal that lives at the museum? 

 “I’d have to say I’m partial to Patience the sloth. She’s one of the most popular residents in the Discovery Zoo, and now has her own Sloth Tai Chi program that has become a favorite of visitors to the Museum.”

 >>Meet Patience the two-toed Sloth and Dayton’s newest Tai Chi instructor

🧬Why do you think it’s important for a city to have access to a natural science resource like the Boonshoft? 

 “Last year, the Dayton Society of Natural History (DSNH), the parent organization of the museum, celebrated two anniversaries: the 125th anniversary of the founding of its collection and the 60th anniversary of its current location in Northwest Dayton. As a result, we currently preserve close to 2 million items that include artifacts and specimens in the areas of: Anthropology, Biology, Geology, Astronomy, and even live animals.

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Families that were prominent in Dayton acquired objects from around the world in their travels and donated them to what is now the Boonshoft Museum. The collections share the history of ancient cultures with people living in our area, and advance knowledge that would be nearly impossible to share without the Museum, Sunwatch and Fort Ancient. 

The museum is a valuable resource in the area of education and is a strong proponent of STEM education.”


  🧬What’s your biggest piece of advice for young professionals trying to decide on a career path? 

“I would advise them to educate themselves about the field and explore opportunities for internships and fellowships which will give them a real-world understanding of the discipline. The tools of the trade change with the advancement of technology. The fundamental objectives of outreach and communication however, remain the same.”

🧬Is there anything you think is really cool about the Boonshoft that the public might not know about?  

“Our staff celebrates knowledge. The nerd vibe is strong at the Boonshoft, and education is a constant experience. We just celebrated our annual GeekFest weekend, which this year included a night called the GeekProm, designed especially for adults.”

>> PHOTOS: Did we spot you at Boonshoft’s Geek Prom?

🧬What do you enjoy doing in your free time around Dayton? What are some of your favorite Dayton spots? 

“When I have free time in Dayton, I enjoy painting and visiting some of the excellent restaurants, museum’s, parks, and music venues we have in our area. The Dayton Art Institute, the National Afro-American Museum, Wegerzyn Gardens, Levitt Pavilion, and the Rose Music Center are a few of my favorites.”

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