The Indiana War Memorial and Museum honors our heroes and veterans.

Indiana War Memorial exterior at dawn

Here in Indiana, we never forget the sacrifices made by our veterans. Compared to other cities, Indianapolis is second only to Washington D.C. in the number of war monuments. And the crown jewel of them all is the Indiana War Memorial, right in the heart of downtown Indianapolis.  

The Indiana War Memorial is a 210-foot tall monument originally built to honor Hoosier veterans of World War I. Construction on the memorial began in 1927, and they used genuine Indiana limestone for its neoclassical design. 

Each side of the monument’s exterior has six stone columns, with six sculptures above them. If you look up, then you’ll see their solemn faces looking out over the city. Each statue represents one of the memorial’s core ideals: courage, memory, peace, victory, liberty, and patriotism. Then, on the south steps stands Pro Patria, a statue of a young man draped in the flag. At the time of its construction, Pro Patria was the largest bronze casting sculpture ever made in the U.S.

But as impressive as the monument is from the outside, the main attraction is inside, hidden in plain sight. If you climb the steps and walk in, you’ll discover the Indiana War Museum dedicated to the state’s military history. From the Revolutionary War to recent conflicts, the museum honors our veterans and displays artifacts from past wars.

“Our main mission is to honor Hoosier veterans and ensure that the sacrifices they’ve made to defend our great nation and preserve our freedoms are not forgotten…. We feel it is important for all Americans, and especially our youth, to hear this story.”

– Brigadier General J. Stewart Goodwin, Executive Director of the Indiana War Memorials Commission

Learn about our military history at the Indiana War Museum.

Inside the monument, the Indiana War Museum is a 30,000-square foot tribute to the battles and sacrifices throughout Hoosier history. The three-floor building features historic exhibits with military equipment and artifacts from the nation’s past wars and conflicts.

The museum features thousands of weapons, uniforms, and medals as well as combat vehicles. They have both a Desert Storm Humvee and an AH-1 Cobra Attack Helicopter from the Vietnam War! You can also see history come to life through the 400 old flags in the museum’s battle flag collection. And don’t miss the USS Indianapolis Radio Room! This historic recreation showcases the U.S. Navy radio equipment that was used on ships in the 1940s.

Share a moment of silence in the solemn Shrine Room.

The top floor is dedicated to the Shrine Room—a breathtaking space to commemorate the end of World War I. The room is 110 feet tall and made of materials from the Allied nations, symbolizing our unified efforts for peace. The walls are lined with 24 deep red pillars to represent the blood shed by our soldiers. And a frieze sculpted into the room depicts the story of the Great War.

In the center of the room is the U.S. flag, hanging from the ceiling beneath the shining Star of Destiny. Below the flag sits the Altar of Consecration, a place to remember and renew our commitment to our country. The museum is free for all visitors, so everyone can take a moment to reflect in the Shrine Room.

Flag hanging in Indiana War Memorial shrine room
Altar in Indiana War Memorial shrine room

Visit a National Historic District dedicated to our veterans.

The Indiana War Memorial sits at the center of six city blocks known as the Indiana War Memorial Plaza Historic District. The plaza is a National Historic Landmark District with two museums, three parks, four fountains, and 25 acres of monuments.

Thanks to the beautiful Plaza, Indianapolis has more acreage dedicated to honoring our veterans than any other U.S. city. Visitors can sit at the five-level fountain in University Park, observe the 100-foot tall obelisk in Veterans Memorial Plaza, and walk around the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at Monument Circle—the very spot our Circle City is named for.

Indianapolis is also home to the American Legion National Headquarters, the main office for the largest veterans’ organization in the world. The headquarters houses the American Legion’s archives, art gallery, and museum as well as offices for their key executives, including the national commander.

Their headquarters sits proudly in the Plaza Historic District on the American Legion Mall, alongside memorials commemorating the lives lost in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. On the north end of the mall, you can also walk around a sunken garden and cenotaph built to honor the Hoosiers who died in World War I.  

See the city’s memorials while you explore downtown Indianapolis.

The Indiana War Memorial and Museum is just one of the many monuments that honors our fallen heroes. But after nearly a century, this iconic building is a beloved staple of the Indianapolis landscape. It’s not uncommon to see workers take their lunch break on the park lawn or watch joggers run up the monument’s steps for a good workout. Every day, the Indiana War Memorial stands as a proud reminder of our history, our freedom, and all of the veterans who made it possible.

Indiana War Memorial shrine room from a high angle