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Keirn Family World War II Museum

The Keirn Family World War II Museum at Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania, chronicles our nation’s decisive role in the greatest armed conflict in human history, and captures the spirit of the American virtues of courage and sacrifice that led to unconditional victory in 1945. 

Contributions to the war effort made by men and women of Pennsylvania are featured in the museum’s exhibitions.

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  • About the Museum

    Keirn PlaqueThe Keirn Family World War II Museum at Saint Francis University houses several special collections of artifacts and oral history projects. The origins of the primary collection lie with Altoona resident Joseph E. Keirn, a retired Command Sergeant Major in the United States Army.

    An avid preservationist of WWII memorabilia, CSM Keirn used his collection as an educational tool, welcoming students and community groups to tour it and learn the war. In 2014, he donated his collection to Saint Francis University to ensure that it would continue to be used to educate future generations regarding the legacy of the war. His once private collection, combined with additional donations, is now available for public viewing.

  • Plan Your Visit


    Keirn Family World War II Museum Building

    Location

    160 St. Mary's Street 
    Loretto, Pennsylvania

    Admission: Free


    Reservation only

    (Limited admission to groups of four or fewer guests at any on time.)
    Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday
    1:00pm - 2:00pm
    2:10pm - 3:10pm
    3:20pm - 4:20pm

    Request a Tour 

     Contact us by email at ww2museum@francis.edu or by phone at
    814-472-0740

  • Exhibits

    TIMELINE  ROOM
    This room provides an illustrated chronology of major events of World War II, from the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 through the surrender of Germany and Japan in 1945.

    PERIOD ROOM
    In this room, you will be immersed in the atmosphere of a World War II era living room .

    THE JUNE 6, 1944 ROOM
    The museum’s flagship exhibition that commemorates the valor of local soldiers who, while serving as U.S. Army Rangers, participated in the capture of long-range German defensive artillery at Pointe du Hoc in Normandy, France, on D-Day.

    THE WEST EXHIBITION ROOM currently houses new displays of U.S. Army and Navy uniforms of World War II from the Keirn collection.  Several of them are on display for the first time, and some were worn by local veterans of World War II. 

    The West Exhibition Room also features an exhibition on “The Psychology of Wartime Propaganda:  the Art and Science of Persuasion.”

    THE EAST EXHIBITION ROOM houses a major interpretive exhibition titled, “National Identify and Military Culture, an examination of how a country’s history shapes it sense of national identity and the military culture of its armed forces.  

    The exhibit includes extensive artifacts from the Keirn collection and includes American and German examples. The East Exhibition Room also features a tribute to the United States Marine Corps, and a tribute to three selected American heroes of World War II – “three ”among many.”

    Special Collections

    ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
    We want to capture the memories of World War II from those who experienced it or from their family members. Please contact us if you are interested in sharing your story or your family members’ story. We have oral history interviews from local World War II veterans or their family members and we are very interested in conducting an interview with you!

    THE JOSEPH E. & SHIRLEY J. KEIRN WORLD WAR II COLLECTION
    Our generous donors, Joseph E. and Shirley J. Keirn, collected numerous artifacts and personal effects from World War II veterans. Their contributions have preserved numerous histories that would otherwise be lost.

    SPECIAL COLLECTIONS
    Several individuals, including Vincent Hagg ’50, and the family of Renato Ferretti ’43, have donated artifacts, papers, and personal items Please visit the museum to hear more about these and other collections as well as the donors’ wall of honor.

    DONATE AN ARTIFACT

    Our collection is continually growing and we accept certain donation of World War II artifacts, especially from Pennsylvanians. If you have any questions about whether an artifact might fit in our collection, please contact us.

    Educational Opportunities

    As a part of Saint Francis University, education and interaction are central to our mission. Local schools, veterans’ groups, and community organizations are welcome for personalized tours.  Please contact the museum in advance to make arrangements for your group visit.

     

     

    Give/Honor

    We offer several options for preserving the memory of World War II and our community’s history:

    LEGACY DONATION
    Give a gift in honor of or in memory of a friend or family member. You can also give donations as retirement, graduation, birthday, anniversary, or in recognition of military service gifts. The name of the person honored or memorialized will be displayed on our website. 

    PROVIDE AN ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW
    We want to capture the memories of World War II from those who experienced it or from their family members. Please contact us if you are interested in sharing your story or your family members’ story. We have oral history interviews from local World War II veterans or their family members and we are very interested in conducting an interview with you! 

    GENERAL DONATION
    You can also make a one-time donation to support the preservation of artifacts and continued student research in our collections.

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