For many visitors, stepping into the Dayton Art Institute (DAI) feels like walking back home. Despite the building’s grand facade and history dating back to 1919, there’s a certain ease and beauty about the space that somehow welcomes guests through the halls with a warm embrace while extracting a sense of ownership and pride from all who visit.
This is especially true for Kevin Tunstall, museum service manager over events rentals and beverages at the DAI, who first entered the institute as an artist and teacher. Tunstall was eager to take a deeper role with the institute because of all the memories he had created within its walls, and now he is charged with helping others create memorable moments and lasting impressions through events and meetings held in any of the six rental spaces throughout the institute.
“The DAI has always held a special place for me,” Tunstall said. “It’s kind of like coming full circle to be able to work here in this capacity, helping people create lifelong memories through the events held here.”
Founded in 1919, the DAI has consistently been ranked among the best midsize art museums in the United States. Its broad collection of permanent art spans 5,000 years and includes more than 25,000 objects, of which 1,000 are on view at any given time.
The DAI’s collection includes extensive holdings in European art from medieval times to the early 20th century, American art from Colonial to contemporary and an extensive Asian collection spanning several thousand years. The museum also has significant Oceanic, African, pre-Columbian, Native American and glass artworks.
Set atop a hill overlooking downtown Dayton, the museum itself is a living piece of history and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The 1930s building was designed by noted museum architect Edward B. Green and modeled after the Villa d’Este near Rome and the Villa Farnese at Caprarola in Italy, both famous examples of 16th-century Italian Renaissance architecture.
Only members are able to host events at the DAI, and this exclusive space provides a breathtaking backdrop for any Dayton region event or meeting.
Whether it’s a gala celebration or a stylized luncheon, the DAI has the perfect space to fit every type of small gathering. Event spaces include the Shaw Gothic Cloister, for up to 300 guests for a sit-down dinner and 600 people for a cocktail reception; the Hale Cloister outdoor space, for up to 160 for a wedding ceremony and 250 for a cocktail reception; the Great Hall, for 300 to 400 guests for a cocktail reception and 100 for a sit-down dinner; the Renaissance Auditorium, for up to 478 guests; the Entrance Rotunda, for up to 250 people; the Lower Court, for up to 200 guests; the Private Dining Room, for up to 40 people; the Library, for up to 50 people; and the Board Room, for up to 20 people.
Although the institute does not have an on-site caterer, the events team works closely with several catering partners that offer a wide variety of options and menus. The DAI’s preferred catering partners are Bernstein’s Fine Catering, Elite Catering and Events, and Kohler Catering. The institute also works with Prime Time Party Rental for tents, tables and chairs to china and glassware, and with Economy Linen and Towel Service, Inc. for linen rentals. Alcohol is offered and allowed at events held at the institute. No food or drink is permitted in the art galleries or the auditorium, and no carry-in food or drink is permitted unless preauthorized by event management.