Freeman Army Airfield Museum officials already consider it one of Jackson County’s “best-kept secrets.”
But now, with some simple changes, they hope to make a more memorable visit.
Those changes include newly organized displays, new hours and better community outreach.
“We worked on the flow and continuity of the museum. We’ve really worked hard getting stuff that is similar to each other into a better cognitive flow,” said Mike Jordan, a member of the museum’s board.
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The regrouping included the creation of a new melee weapons display.
The display includes a German K-98 bayonet acquired a year ago by the museum. The bayonet would be attached to a German K-98 bolt action rifle for use in fighting.
The two German officer’s daggers, one in pristine condition belonging to a Schutzstaffel, or SS, officer, were donated by the family of Henry Lang, who brought it back from his service in World War II. Nobody knew Lang had the dagger until after his death.
The new display also contains several American fighting knives and a Japanese officer’s katana, a long sword carried by Japanese officers for close combat.
The new display is currently being housed in the museum’s annex.
The museum also has expanded its section on war nurses with the addition of the gray woman’s uniform at the museum.
Jordan said the reorganization is to help people learn more and be able to find things related to each other easier.
“We want to preserve the history of the community and expand what people know about our history,” he said.
“It opens up your mind about so much,” volunteer Marty Schwab said.
Many people didn’t know Seymour was a training facility for military pilots during World War II and then was a helicopter base, followed by a foreign aviation evaluation center after the war, Schwab said.
“People don’t realize that the population in Seymour in 1941 was 7,000. A year later, the population doubled,” Schwab said.
“A thing that I really enjoy is taking high school students on tours and explaining how women’s rights have changed since the 1940s and what their role in society became after the war,” said Patricia Brod, a board member with the museum.
The museum also includes a library where people are invited to come and learn about the subjects in the museum.
Matching the new display, the museum has new hours, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and by appointment at other times, and a new website, freemanarmyair fieldmuseum.org. Soon, it will have new external signs for the museum and the annex.
“We went to (Camp Atterbury Museum) and we learned how to better reach out to the community,” Jordan said.
Jordan said the museum is always looking for school groups and other organizations interested in touring the museum, and people are welcome to explore and experience the museum at their own pace or with a volunteer if a guided tour is more their speed.
“You wouldn’t believe the impact this museum has on people,” Schwab said.
The innovations and reorganization are working since the attendance of the museum has quadrupled in recent years, Jordan said.
“So we’re on our way,” he said.
Visit the Freeman Army Airfield Museum’s new website: freemanarmyairfieldmuseum.org