Dayton has museums to honor everything from Dayton’s aviation heritage, to its role in international peace, to interactive learning for kids, world-renowned art, cars, Dayton history and more.
But which is the best? We turned to the people of Dayton to answer that question.
These are the top three vote-getters in Dayton.com’s Best of 2018 contest for Best Museum. They also happen to be some of the most visited attractions in the Gem City.
🏆 BEST OF DAYTON 2018 WINNERS
🥇WINNER: National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
The museum is the world’s largest and oldest military aviation museum featuring more than 360 aerospace vehicles and missiles on display amid more than 19 acres of indoor exhibit space. It underwent a major expansion in 2016, adding more than 70 aircraft in four new galleries exploring aircraft that touch on presidential, research and development, space and global reach. Last year, it opened an exhibition on the famed Memphis Belle.
In addition to the exhibitions that have helped elevate this expansive museum to one of the top 10 most-visited attractions in the state, you can now board a space shuttle, walk through four presidential aircrafts, step inside cargo planes and enjoy new STEM educational opportunities that will help expand your mind. The best part is a visit comes with free admission and parking.
The museum has four buildings that house numerous galleries. They include: The William E. Boeing Presidential Gallery, the Allan and Malcolm Lockheed and Glenn Martin Space Gallery, the Maj. Gen. Albert Boyd and Maj. Gen. Fred Ascani Research and Development Gallery and the Lt. Gen. William H. Tunner Global Reach Gallery.
The indoor facility is more than 19 acres of exhibition space, while the entire campus holds around 400 acres of land.
A recent hangar opened in 2016 and is 224,000 square feet.
Admission to the museum is free. There are charges for the theater and flight simulators. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
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🥈SECOND PLACE: Dayton Art Institute
The Dayton Art Institute sits atop a hill on the edge of the Great Miami River overlooking downtown Dayton. This year, the art museum is celebrating 100 years.
During its first decade in existence, The Dayton Art Institute outgrew its original home, a mansion located on Monument Avenue in downtown Dayton. Mrs. Julia Shaw Carnell, a prominent community leader, pledged to construct a new museum if the community would then endow and pay for its operations. What resulted was the landmark building that still houses the museum. Completed in 1930, the building was modeled after the Villa d’Este near Rome and the Villa Farnese at Caprarola in Italy, both examples of 16th century Italian Renaissance architecture. The museum facility was designed by prominent museum architect Edward B. Green of Buffalo. Today, The Dayton Art Institute's architecturally and historically significant facility is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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🥉THIRD PLACE: Boonshoft Museum of Discovery
The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery has a little something for children of all ages. The Boonshoft is a children's museum, science and technology center and zoo in Dayton that focuses on science and natural history. The museum has been part of the Dayton area since the Children’s Museum of Dayton and the Museum of Natural History merged in 1999.
Exhibits include an extensive natural history collection as well as maintaining a collection of live animals native to Ohio. The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery houses many education-based experiences and exhibits that’ll inspire your young one’s mind with knowledge space, animals, fossils, shapes, a tidal pool that gives you the chance to touch a starfish and more. There is no shortage of things to do and explore.
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