UD’s River Institute watershed exhibit finds permanent home at Boonshoft Museum

After floating around to local schools, the University of Dayton RiverMobile exhibit has found a permanent home at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery in Dayton.

The exhibit concerning the Great Miami River watershed was born out of the Fitz Center of Leadership in Community’s Rivers Institute at the university. The traveling exhibit has made its way around Miami Valley communities for the past eight years.

The RiverMobile was a 53-foot-long tractor-trailer with four “classrooms” exploring the history and preservation of the Great Miami’s watershed. As a traveling exhibit, the RiverMobile served around 3,500 children, but its new home at the Boonshoft will help educate hundreds of thousands every year, according to Leslie King, director of the Rivers Institute.

“We are able to reach a lot more people, and a much broader and more diverse audience,” King said.

Boonshoft Museum of Discovery notably averages over 200,000 people per year.

King and Fitz Center Executive Director Nancy McHugh worked with the natural history museum to get the RiverMobile on display permanently. The trailer was retired following the pandemic. Tracey Tomme, President and CEO of the Dayton Society of Natural History, Boonshoft’s parent organization, said the components fit the museum’s long-term plans to highlight the watershed.

“We wanted to tell the watershed story of the Dayton region and this starts that introduction to the story,” Tomme said. “We exist for education. This fits right into our mission and so it will continue to have life beyond retiring the trailer.”

The institute’s River Stewards cohort of students gave RiverMobile tours to local schoolchildren when the trailer was in service. Now, the cohort volunteers at the Boonshoft Museum.

“This will be another service opportunity for all of us as River Stewards,” said Tessa O’Halloran, junior civil engineering major. “We will have educational games, give out our children’s books, and talk about sustainability and protecting Dayton’s No. 1 natural resource.”

The exhibit opened at the museum and has been on display on the first floor since Feb. 23, but an official ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for Friday, April 21 at 4 p.m. The following day is one of three remaining free admission days at the Boonshoft Museum, allowing the whole community to view the watershed exhibit and learn more about the Great Miami River. Free admission will also be offered later in the year on Aug. 5 and Nov. 18. Everyday admission for the museum is $14.50 for adults, $11.50 for children ages 3-17, $12.50 for seniors over 60 and free for children under 3 and Dayton Society of Natural History members.


What: The Rivers Institute’s Great Miami River watershed exhibit

Where: Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, located at 2600 DeWeese Parkway, Dayton

More Information: Visit https://boonshoft.org/.

About the Author