12 museums you must explore in Dayton

There's no better time of year to get to know Dayton's museums.

Outstanding archives and collections have enabled Dayton to offer the community many ways to explore its arts, culture, history and heritage.

Take your pick from aviation to local history and beyond, it can all be found here.

1. Dayton Art Institute

American Sampler: Grandma Moses and the Handicraft Tradition is on display at the Dayton Art Institute through Feb. 21. The show features approximately 50 works by Grandma Moses, including her paintings, embroideries, a quilt and other handmade items, along with examples of embroidery from the 17th through 19th centuries. LISA POWELL / STAFF

When you're visiting Dayton or if you are new to Dayton, one of the first recommendations you'll hear from Daytonians is to visit the the Dayton Art Institute. The museum has an impressive permanent collection, a great area for kids and an eclectic mix of special exhibitions and special events. You can’t miss it, as you’re taking tours of the city. If you’re a lover of art of all genres, the DAI as we like to call it, is where to go.Want to go?  WHAT: Dayton Art Institute WHERE: 456 Belmonte Park North, Dayton
COST: Suggested donation: 

  • Adults: $8
  • Seniors (60+), Active Military and  Groups: $5 
  • College Students (18+ with ID): Free
  • Youth & Children (17 and under): Free
  • Members: Free
  • Special exhibits may carry additional fee

HOURS: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 12-5 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday INFO: WebsiteFacebook | 937-223-4278 

2. Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

The state capital budget proposes $1 million for the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery. The money would be used to expand educational facilities at the Dayton museum. LYNN HULSEY / STAFF

Known for interactive science and learning experiences that enrich the lives of children and adults, the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is just plain cool. The museum combines learning and fun on topics including anthropology, geology, paleontology and biology. No matter what, there is a collection here designed to promote deeper understanding of the world. And don't forget the animals. The museum has its own mini zoo with beloved animals, including some river otters with some serious personality.
Want to go?  WHAT: Boonshoft Museum of Discovery WHERE: 2600 Deweese Parkway, Dayton
COST: Children (3-16) $10
Seniors (60+) $11
Adults $13
Children under 3 and members are free HOURS: 9 a.m.–5  p.m. Monday-Saturday, 12 p.m.–5 p.m. Sunday  INFO: WebsiteFacebook | 937-275-7431 

 3. Carillon Historical Park 

If you yearn to learn more about how Dayton became such an amazing city, then there’s plenty to learn at Carillon Historical Park. The park is located on a 65-acre campus and you simply can’t miss Dayton's landmark, Carillon tower that overlooks the Great Miami River. Inside the museum at Carillon Park, you will have a chance to immerse yourself in Dayton history. The museum includes exhibits that showcase the original 1905 Wright Flyer III,  the 1835 B&O steam locomotive and the first automobile self-starter, not to mention an expansive collection of old NCR cash registers. You can also enjoy a nifty carousel ride that pays homage to Dayton History.Want to go?  WHAT: Carillon Historical Park WHERE: 1000 Carillon Boulevard, Dayton
COST: Adults $8 
Seniors (ages 60 and over) $7 
Children (ages 3-17) $5  HOURS: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Sunday, 12 p.m.-5 p.m. Sunday  INFO: WebsiteFacebook | 937- 293-2841

4. Dayton International Peace Museum

The Dayton International Peace Museum has a new exhibit honoring Ted Studebaker, a local conscientious objector killed in Vietnam. (Randy Ragsdale/Staff)

Hear from folks at the Dayton International Peace Museum about nonviolent strategies Dayton has used to achieve peace. The peace museum is all about telling the stories of peace heroes who’ve helped make the world a better place by shaping a culture of goodwill. Want to go?  WHAT: Dayton International Peace Museum WHERE: 208 W. Monument Ave., Dayton
COST: Free HOURS: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday  INFO: Website | Facebook | 937-227-3223 

5. Paul Laurence Dunbar House

The Paul Laurence Dunbar House in Dayton is a museum to the poet. In 1936 it became the first state memorial to honor an African American. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Schedule a tour of the former home of Paul Laurence Dunbar, an African-American poet who published an extensive post-Civil War collection. His work details the many challenges facing African-Americans amid cultural conflict and social-racial unrest after the war. See famous artifacts and more here. Want to go?  WHAT: Paul Laurence Dunbar House WHERE: 219 N. Paul Laurence Dunbar St., Dayton
COST: Free HOURS: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday  INFO: WebsiteFacebook | 937-224-7061 or 937-225-7705

6. America’s Packard Museum  

A sporty Packard convertible. (Photos by Lauren Rinehart)

Automotive buffs, what do you know about the Packard Motor Car Company? If you're interested in expanding your knowledge about the industry, then the Packard Museum is a must. This museum is dedicated exclusively to the Packard Motor Car Company, and educating you about its products and philosophies.
 Want to go?  WHAT: America’s Packard Museum  WHERE: 420 Ludlow St., Dayton COST: Adults $6
Seniors $5
Students $4 HOURS: 12-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, 1-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
 INFOWebsiteFacebook | 937-226-1710  

7. National Museum of the U.S. Air Force (Staff Writer)

One of Dayton's biggest tourist attractions is the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. This spectacular destination includes an aviation museum with some pretty amazing planes, a flight simulator, a 3D theater, war-themed exhibits and more.Want to go?  WHAT: National Museum of the U.S. Air Force WHERE: 1100 Spaatz St., Wright-Patterson AFB
COST: Free HOURS: Open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. INFO:  WebsiteFacebook | 937-255-3286  

8. Mound Science and Energy Museum 

Learn about energy, nuclear power and more. The Mound Science and Energy Museum showcases dedicated scientists and workers who have spent over 50 years researching the world’s energy use and development. Check them out on Tuesdays and Saturdays or schedule an appointment.Want to go?  WHAT: Mound Science and Energy Museum WHERE: 1075 Mound Road, Miamisburg
COST: Free HOURS: 1-3 p.m. Tuesday, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Saturday and by appointment INFO: WebsiteFacebook | 937-353-4457 

9. The Miami Valley Military History Museum

World War I uniforms at the Miami Valley Military History Museum located in Building 120 on the Dayton Veterans Administration campus. The uniform at right was worn by Corporal Harold C. Smith from Clifton, Illinois. Smith ran away from home at age 14, changed his name and enlisted in the Army. He was served in France and was discharged in 1919 at age 16. TY GREENLEES / STAFF (Ty Greenlees)

Learn about and support the veterans of our Armed Forces past, present and future. The Miami Valley Military History Museum is all about helping you preserve the memory of those who’ve fought for the nation by providing you with special artifacts, research materials and literature centered around our nation’s military. 

Want to go?  WHAT: The Miami Valley Military History Museum WHERE: 120 Ohio Ave., Building 120, Dayton  HOURS: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday INFO: WebsiteFacebook |937-267-7629

10. WACO Historical Society and Air Museum

DETAIL of a display in the WACO Aircraft Museum. The WACO Historical Society continues to grow, and expand its horizons, at its museum and airfield at Troy’s south end. JIM WITMER / STAFF (Jim Witmer)

The WACO Historical Society works at providing you with the important history about local aviation history. See the planes and learn the history of how this region became the birthplace of aviation. Want to go? WHAT: WACO Historical Society and Air Museum
WHERE: 1865 S. County Road 25-A, Troy
COST: Adults $6
Military (with ID) $5
Students $3
Under 6 free
HOURS: 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, 12-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
INFO: Website | Facebook | 937-335-9226    

11. Dayton Aviation Heritage

The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park observed its 20th anniversary on Tuesday with a special program at the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center. Oct. 16, 1992 was the day President George H. W. Bush signed into law the act establishing the park. It signaled official national recognition of the significance of Dayton’s historical aviation sites and marked a turning point in Dayton’s efforts to reclaim the legacy of the Wright brothers and recognize African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. (Ty Greenlees)

Learn about Dayton heroes, the Wright Brothers and Paul Laurence Dunbar. The Dayton Aviation Heritage Museum preserves and interprets the history and legacies of these extraordinary men through artifacts and education. Want to go?  WHAT: Dayton Aviation Heritage WHERE: 16 S. Williams St., Dayton
COST: Free HOURS: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Sunday 
 INFO: WebsiteFacebook | 937-225-7705

12. Sunwatch Indian Village 

SunWatch Indian Village and Archaeological Park in Dayton.

Sunwatch Indian Village works in conjunction with the Boonshoft Museum mentioned above. So, you know they’re good!  Explore the actual Indian Village and Archaeological Park aimed at supporting and protecting the cultural remains of the Sunwatch National Historic Landmark. 

Want to go?  WHAT: Sunwatch Indian Village WHERE:  2301 W. River Road, Dayton
COST:  Adults $6
Seniors (60+) $4
Student (6–16) $4
Children under 6 and members are free HOURS: 9 a.m. - 5  p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 12-5 p.m. Sunday, Closed Monday  INFO: WebsiteFacebook | 937-268-8199    

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