Dayton-area museum stores have the perfect lineup of distinctive gifts

Shopping at museum stores is a great way to find that perfect one-of-a-kind gift and support a local institution at the same time.

Whether shopping for an art lover, aviation enthusiast or a local history buff — the Dayton area has a specialty store for you.

“All museum stores want to be unique,” Diane Haskell, museum-store manager at the Dayton Art Institute, said. “Everyone has their own style or niche depending on the personality of the museum.”

Here’s a look at five Dayton area museums with a variety of gift-giving ideas.

The Museum Store at the Dayton Art Institute

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

The Museum Store at the Dayton Art Institute specializes in “the unique and whimsical and art from local artisans,” Haskell said.

Gifts are geared toward all ages, and prices range from $1.25 for a box of mini-modeling clay to a $6,000 piece of Dale Chihuli studio-edition art glass.

Consider giving a gift made by a local artist. The store sells glasswork by Jim DeLange of Cedarville; items made by Yetunde Rodriguez, a Nigerian-American printmaker and textile artist who lives in Dayton; and pottery created by Stephanie Beiser of Dayton.

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The museum store has something for everyone, including jewelry, socks designed with works of art, a starry-sky LED room light, games, paint-by-number kits, stationery and glass ornaments.

Other gift ideas include glass cutting boards, jewelry, mugs, socks and puzzles with designs by artist Charlie Harper, 2020 Oktoberfest mugs, children’s books and stuffed animals.

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

You can also give the gift of experiences this holiday season, in the form of a gift membership to the Dayton Art Institute. A membership offers 12 months of free admission to the DAI’s world-class collection and special exhibitions, as well as discounts on museum events and programs, and discounts on purchases at the DAI Museum Store. Memberships are also an important way to help support the DAI during these difficult times.

Beginning Saturday, November 21 and lasting through the end of the year, the DAI will offer a special holiday membership sale on Saturdays. There is a 25% discount off the full price of a new membership when purchased on a Saturday. This offer is only valid for the purchase of new memberships and memberships must be purchased in person at the museum. A variety of membership levels are available, from individual memberships to family memberships, as well as memberships that offer reciprocal admission to other museums.

Information about membership levels and prices can be found online at

Keep an eye on the DAI’s social media in December for flash sales. The Museum Store will be offering special in-store discounts throughout the day on Museum Store Sunday, Nov. 29. Visit the store for details. In addition, the store will be offering free shipping on all orders $25 or more from the online store for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Museum Store Sunday and Cyber Monday.

The shop is located in the museum at 456 Belmonte Park Drive, North. Store hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Museum members receive a 10 % discount. There’s an online store at Free shipping is available for orders of $25 or more throughout the holidays. Gift wrapping available. Phone: (937) 223-4278 during museum hours.

Aullwood Audubon Nature Store & Gift Shop

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

The Aullwood Audubon Nature Store & Gift Shop has moved to Aullwood Farm while the nature center undergoes renovations.

The gift shop is a “celebration of nature,” with something for all ages, said Laurie Cothran, Aullwood’s development and marketing manager. “It’s beautiful to build appreciation for animals and nature and all these items do that.”

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Among the gift items are a large selection of books about birds; bird feeders; scarves; jewelry; a large selection of children’s gifts and books; holiday-themed items; and music CD’s recorded by Chris Rowlands, the outreach environmental educator at Aullwood Audubon. The farm also sells fresh eggs, apple butter, honey and locally raised beef and chicken.

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

Gift ideas include a squirrel-proof bird feeder; jewelry made of resin and dried flowers; floral scarves; goat-milk skin-care products; plush birds that make calls when squeezed.

The shop is located at 9101 Frederick Pike and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. on Sundays. Special holiday shopping begins on Saturday, Nov. 14 and runs through Thursday, Dec. 24. Also take time to enjoy the farm on free-admission days, Nov. 14 and Dec. 5. Phone: (937) 890-7360.

The Discoveries Gift Shop at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

There’s a gift for every budding astronomer, geologist or scientist you know at the Discoveries Gift Shop at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery.

“Our goal is to have unique stuff you can’t find on Amazon or at Wal-Mart that is specific to the Boonshoft experience,” Renee Wilson, gift shop supervisor, said.

Prices range from $1.59 for pencils and pens to $350 for a replica of a saber-toothed cat skull.

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There’s much to choose from, including astronaut ice cream; “Explorer Kits” filled with hands-on activities and lesson plans; animal and novelty masks for kids and adults; casts of fossils and trilobites; botany kits; crystal growing kits and Pluto Plasma slime. A special holiday table has gifts for $5 and under.

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

Gift ideas include a kid-size lab coat, replicas of ancient Egypt statuettes, solar system model-making kits and plush dinosaurs. The annual “Membership in a Bag” ($135) includes a standard family membership, a gift voucher, two free passes to share with others, a Boonshoft water bottle and more.

The Discoveries Gift Shop, 2600 DeWeese Parkway, Dayton, is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Visit the store online at Shipping is available. Staff will also do personal shopping and deliver items curbside. Call 937-275-7431.

The Carillon Historical Park Museum Store

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

Carillon Historical Park’s new museum store – recently doubled the size – opened at the end of June and carries “all things Dayton plus more,” Emily Teters, store manager, said.

The shop specializes in Dayton and Miami Valley history and overflows with unique gift ideas for all ages. Prices range from a few dollars for magnets to $360 for a wooden chest made by Dayton-based Gerstner & Sons.

There are hundreds of items in the store to choose from including a solid brass 1903 Wright Flyer ornament; jewelry made from vintage buttons; Suffrage related apparel and items; Melamine dishware; a large selection of Dayton history books; old-fashioned toys for kids; purses and bags; more than 50 styles of Dayton-centric vinyl stickers and a selection of plush eagles and books commemorating the park’s resident bald eagles, Orv and Willa.

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

A separate room holds The Christmas Shoppe filled with more than 100 styles of Old World Christmas glass ornaments, nutcrackers, Christmas-themed kitchen items and more. The Christmas Shoppe will be open until Dec. 30.

Gift ideas include Dayton Triangles merchandise; 3-D Deed’s Carillon ornament; a bracelet with an added assortment of Carillon charms; glass ornaments in the shape of toilet paper or hand sanitizer or a nurse’s cap, or an ambulance, police car or fire engine for essential workers.

The shop, located at 1000 Carillon Blvd., is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. During A Carillon Christmas, Nov. 24 - Dec. 30, hours will be extended until 9 p.m. Sunday - Thursday and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Museum members receive a 10% discount. There is an online store at Curbside pickup is available. Shipping and gift wrap are available for a fee. Phone: 937-293-2841.

The Museum Store at the National Museum of the United States Air Force

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

The museum store at the National Museum of the United States Air Force is filled with aviation-themed and military-themed merchandise.

The shop’s mission is to “focus on artifacts in the museum and connect visitors with the experience they had,” Melinda Lawrence, director of retail for the Air Force Museum Foundation, said.

The shop has gifts for all ages — and pets — at prices that range from $1 for pencils to $1,200 for art prints.

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

Be prepared to spend time browsing the 5,000-square-foot store loaded with gift ideas including flight jackets for boys and girls; a selection of two dozen kites; an Air Force decanter set; hundred of books; Rosie the Riveter items and fun alien themed items in the Area 51 section.

Gift ideas include the 2020 museum ornament featuring the SR-71 Blackbird in flight; books for adults and children; aircraft, space and military themed ties; model kits; military themed mugs; apparel; chocolate shaped like a grenade; and patriotic face masks.

The store, located at 1100 Spaatz St, Dayton, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. On Dec. 3 the store will be open until 8 p.m. Museum members receive a 10% discount. There is an online store at Shipping is available and free with a purchase of $100 (domestic only). Phone: (937)-656-9286.

The National Aviation Heritage Area has also launched a campaign, “Buy Different in a Different Year,” to help support local aviation museums in the region.

Be sure to browse for more aviation-themed gift ideas.

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