Satellite branch could lead to additional museum growth

The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery’s satellite branch opening in Springfield could be the start of other growth plans for the museum, according to Museum officials.

The museum’s Springfield branch opened Saturday in a 4,171 square foot space in the Upper Valley Mall and will stay open for at least six months, said spokeswoman Kristy Creel.

“This is kind of an exploration,” Creel said.

The museum’s administration had looked at locations both north and east of Dayton, but settled on Springfield for its first expansion because “it’s the largest metropolitan area between here and Columbus,” Creel said. “It just seemed like it had the most potential for success.”

In 2012, about 6,000 of the visitors to the main museum came from Clark County, about 4 percent of the 190,000 visitors that year, Creel said. But museum officials believe that the satellite location will draw from beyond the Clark County borders, she said.

Creel said that, should this expansion work, the museum is already looking at other growth options, though “there’s certainly nothing definite,” she said.

Creel said museum officials did not look to the southern Miami Valley, as that region is already served by the Dayton and Cincinnati markets. She also noted that the Boonshoft already has a presence in Warren County, where it runs Fort Ancient in Oregonia on behalf of the Ohio Historical Society. The Museum also operates SunWatch Indian Village in Dayton.

The new branch houses interactive science exhibits geared toward elementary-school age children, demonstrating scientific concepts concerning light, energy, air and earth, Creel said. Exhibition pieces include a touch-sensitive light floor, magnetic tables, a circuit “train” and a child-size replica of the Wright B Flyer.

There also will be rotating live animal exhibits and astronomy programs, as well as a gift shop and an interactive space for younger children, Creel said.

Admission will cost $2 for children and $3 for adults, with members of the Dayton Society of Natural History, the museum’s parent organization, admitted for free. The branch will be closed Monday and Tuesday, but will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m.

Those hours could expand if the demand is there, Creel said. Local demand also will determine whether the Boonshoft has a permanent presence in Springfield, as hoped, she said.