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Essential Museums

Welcome to the directory of Dayton’s local museums.

America's Packard Museum



The Citizen's Motorcar Company was founded in Cincinnati in 1906. In 1917, it opened a location at 420 South Ludlow Street in Dayton, in a building designed by Dayton architect Albert Pretzinger in the style of Albert Kahn. This was not a dealership. Rather, as a distributorship, Packard Motor Car Company sold its vehicles directly to the public in Dayton.

When you enter America’s Packard Museum, you follow the footsteps of many discerning buyers, looking to purchase the finest and most prestigious automobile in America. The floor tiles, light fixtures, and decorations replicate the actual showroom. After the Showroom is the Service Department area. Packards were known for their reliability and outstanding engineering, but they needed regular maintenance. The Service Department has most of the original equipment and facilities.Visitors then pass through a breezeway to enter the Pavilion. Originally, the area was an open used car lot, but it was mostly enclosed in 1936 to improve the shopping experience. America’s Packard Museum also includes a children’s area (we like to call it the Junior Executive Suite), which was the office for sales personnel. Finally, the Library was added in 2009, in honor of Packard historian Robert Turnquist.

Boonshoft Museum of Discovery



The Dayton Museum of Natural History began in 1893 as a part of the Dayton Public Library and Museum. Over the years, collections gathered by prominent Dayton citizens on their trips around the world were contributed to the museum. Local natural history collections were also contributed. In 1952, a group of citizens organized the Dayton Society of Natural History which took responsibility for the collections and transformed them into the Dayton Museum of Natural History. In 1958, the Museum of Natural History's main building on Ridge Avenue was completed. In 1991, a new planetarium and expanded collection and exhibit space were added. The Society remained committed to the ideal of inspiring children to enthusiastically embrace science as a vital aspect of their lives through exhibits and programs that were both entertaining and educational. The name change to the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery occurred in January, 1999 in recognition of Oscar Boonshoft, one of the Museum's most dedicated friends.

Carillon Historical Park



Carillon Historical Park is a 65-acre open-air history museum that serves as the main campus for Dayton History. We share the amazing stories of how Dayton changed the world! The Gem City is home to the airplane, the automobile self-starter, the cash register, the first internationally acclaimed African American poet, the National Football League’s inaugural game, and so much more. By the turn of the 20th century, Dayton had more patents, per capita, than any U.S. city, and one-sixth of the nation’s corporate executives had spent a portion of their career at legendary Dayton company National Cash Register (NCR). Dayton’s extraordinary history has undoubtedly impacted billions of lives. With a hand-carved carousel, 4-D theatre, trains, slides, living history experiences, thousands of artifacts, extensive educational programming, and so much more, Carillon Historical Park brings Dayton’s past to life in a way that is fun for the whole family!

Dayton Art Institute



Founded in 1919, The Dayton Art Institute is one of the region’s premier fine arts museums. Visit us often to enjoy our diverse collection galleries, world class special exhibitions, interesting educational programs and unique special events.
The museum’s collection spans 5,000 years of art history, including important American, Ancient American, Asian and European fine and decorative art collections, and numbers more than 27,000 objects.

The Dayton Art Institute also hosts concerts, family and youth programs, classes, social events and more. The museum’s signature events include the annual Art Ball and Oktoberfest. The Lange Family Experiencenter, the museum’s interactive gallery for families and young people, offers thematically based exhibitions that stimulate curiosity and creativity. The Dayton Art Institute is also one of the area’s premier settings for weddings, parties, corporate meetings and special events.

International Peace Museum



A peace museum needs to promote an understanding of peace as a process that promotes positive relations among people- a dynamic human condition in which neither the overt violence of war/armed conflict nor the covert violence of unjust systems is used against people and places.

The International Peace Museum was first suggested as an idea and then built in form by a small group of people near Dayton, Ohio. In 2003, Christine and Ralph Dull were on a road trip back from the United Nations, reflecting on their conviction to peace/nonviolence and to the Miami Valley, their home community. The nation recognizes Dayton for its crucial role in aviation and military air strategy, from the testing of the first plane at Huffman Prairie to the formal establishment of the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the concurrent growth of the National Museum of the US Air Force after WWII. Global inspiration certainly came from the historic 1995 General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Dayton Peace Accords) negotiated by Richard Holbrook at Hope Hotel on the Wright-Patterson AFB. “Dayton should have a museum dedicated to transforming our culture of violence into a culture of peace.”

National Aviation Hall of Fame

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base


Since 1962, the National Aviation Hall of Fame has inducted over 200 of the nation’s premier air and space pioneers. The names are the who’s who in the world of aviation and aerospace including; early pioneers the Wright Brothers, Eugene Bullard, and Bessie Coleman; record makers Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh, and Jackie Cochran; dreamers Kelly Johnson, William Boeing, and Alan and Dale Klapmeier; astronauts John Glenn, Joe Engle, and Eileen Collins; and multi-faceted influencers Jack Daily, Patty Wagstaff, and Joan Sullivan Garrett. On July 14, 1964 the National Aviation Hall of Fame was Chartered nationally by an act of the U. S. 88th Congress as Public Law 88-372, which was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The organization continues today as a public foundation reporting annually to Congress.

After a two-year capital fundraising campaign, groundbreaking for the home of the National Aviation Hall of Fame took place on July 19, 1996. The 17,250 sq. ft. aviation education center is co-located with the world-famous National Museum of the United States Air Force. Our Heritage Hall and Education Center includes interactives that combine with the impact of our Enshrinees to explain the full arena of flight from its origins to today.

National Museum of the United States Air Force

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base


Since 1923 the museum has grown from a small engineering study collection to the world's largest military aviation museum and is a world-renowned center for air and space power technology and culture preservation. The museum is home to countless one-of-a-kind objects. Our once small engine collection now includes more than 350 aerospace vehicles and missiles, thousands of artifacts, and spans 20 indoor acres with additional outdoor Air and Memorial Parks that continue to grow every year.

Today, the National Museum of the United States Air Force collects, researches, conserves, interprets and presents the Air Force's history, heritage and traditions, as well as today's mission to fly, fight and win ... air power anytime, anywhere to a global audience through engaging exhibits, educational outreach, special programs, and the stewardship of the national historic collection. With our educational outreach, we motivate, educate, and inspire youth interest in the United States Air Force (USAF) and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The statutory duties delegated by the Secretary of the Air Force (SECAF) are accomplished on behalf of the American People.

Patterson Homestead



Constructed in three major components between 1816–1850, this legendary home raised three generations of Pattersons, including legendary industrialist John H. Patterson who founded his National Cash Register enterprise on the family’s land—roughly a half-mile northwest of Patterson Homestead.

Originally the home of Revolutionary War soldier and Lexington, Kentucky, and Cincinnati, Ohio, founder, Colonel Robert Patterson, this Federal-style historic house museum tells the story of Dayton’s influential Patterson family. Colonel Patterson first settled here in 1804, and upon his death in 1827, Rubicon Farm (the name of his land) covered 2,038 acres.

In 1953, John H. Patterson’s nephew Jefferson Patterson donated Patterson Homestead to the City of Dayton—its six period rooms showcased 18th and 19th century antiques and Patterson family artifacts. Over time, more family-related artifacts have been added to the collection, and an exhibit gallery was included to tell NCR’s groundbreaking story.

Paul Laurence Dunbar House Historic Site



The Paul Laurence Dunbar House was the 1904-1906 home of poet Paul Laurence Dunbar in Dayton, Ohio. It is a historic house museum owned by the state of Ohio and operated by Dayton History on behalf of the Ohio Historical Society; it is also part of Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. Paul Laurence Dunbar (June 27, 1872 – February 9, 1906) was an American poet and author who was best known in his lifetime for his dialect work and his use of metaphor and rhetoric, often in a conversational style. In his short career he produced twelve books of poetry, four novels, four books of short stories, and wrote the lyrics to many popular songs. Dunbar became the first African American to support himself financially through his writing.

Wright Cycle Company Complex



The Wright Cycle Company building was home to the Wright brothers’ bicycle business from 1895 to 1897. Here the Wright brothers began to manufacture their own brand of bicycles which gave the brothers the mechanical experience and financial resources necessary to began their experiments into powered human flight. The Wright Cycle Company building was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1990.

The Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center is located in the Hoover Block. The Hoover Block was home to Wright & Wright, Job Printers from 1890 to 1895. The Wright brothers began their first business, printing, when Orville was still in high school and they printed small neighborhood newspapers, notecards, bill heads, and circulars. While located in this building, the Wright brothers printed a newspaper published by Paul Laurence Dunbar for the African American community of Dayton. The Hoover Block is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing structure in the West Third Street Historic District.

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