A Mighty Museum

Discover a vast range of U.S. and world military heritage in Vincennes

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Jim Osborne

It welcomes about 30,000 guests annually, and its artifacts come from sources all over the U.S. and the world. And yet, the Indiana Military Museum views itself as an under-the-radar attraction.

The destination in Vincennes, Indiana, packs a century-plus of history into small, walkable spaces. Adult admission is $8, and there’s a lot of bang for the buck — you can browse friend and foe weapons, uniforms, and vehicles from conflicts from Civil War to the present day.

Founder Jim Osborne says visitors come away impressed by the breadth of its inventory, and some even compare it favorably to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana.

“They enjoy seeing our museum as much or better because they see more artifacts per square foot,” says Osborne, who served as Knox County Superior Court judge from 1976 to 2014.

Guests can inspect a Sherman tank, Japanese and German tanks, and a Russian-made howitzer used by Iraqi forces. One of the museum’s rarest treasures is a World War II-era Higgins boat.

There’s also a tank donated to a now-closed Egg Harbor, Wisconsin, museum by the late Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev as the former Soviet Union was dissolving.

Outdoor exhibits include the USS Indianapolis 697 atomic attack submarine and an array of aircraft such as a 1940s C-47 and C-45 and the A-26 Invader used from World War II to Vietnam. There’s even a fragment of a World War I Zeppelin and a Cold War-era nuclear missile.

Uniforms worn by U.S. Army icons George Patton, Dwight Eisenhower, and Colin Powell are on display. One exhibit offers a glimpse of what assembly lines looked like at Evansville’s RepublicAviation in the 1940s.

Recreation of room in a 1940s-style family homestead

Many items in the collection were culled by Osborne, who’s made several trips to Europe and even met Albert Speer, Nazi Germany’s minister of armaments and war production, before Speer died in 1981.

Osborne says the museum, incorporated 40 years ago and open at its current location since 2013, survives on memberships, entrance fees, and donations. It’s staffed by volunteers, many of whom are veterans.

“We are here to honor the men and women who have served our nation throughout its history and to impress upon each new generation that they are the beneficiaries of the sacrifices made by those who wore our country’s uniform preserving our freedoms,” Osborne says.

An expansion expected to finish within a year will add exhibit space and a 50-seat theater, where visitors will be shown an orientation video. Special events and touring exhibits are promoted on the museum’s Facebook page and website.

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Maggie Valenti joined Tucker Publishing Group in September 2022 as a staff writer. She graduated from Gettysburg College in 2020 with a bachelors degree in English. A Connecticut native, Maggie has ridden horses for 15 years and has hunt seat competition experience on the East Coast.