Osborne set his eyes on the state's Destination Development Grant late last year and in less than two months, raised the $250,000 he needed to apply.
“So it's full speed ahead,” he said excitedly. “This is really going to get the show rolling. It's what we've been waiting for.
“It's perfect timing,” Osborne said. “Spring is right around the corner, and that means we can really get this going.”
Osborne's first big donation, $100,000, came from the Greenup, Illinois-based Jay E. Hayden Foundation, a group that has rallied behind the museum in the past. Several others then fell in step.
He received $30,000 and architectural and design support from the Cook Group, the same company that owns the French Lick Resort, and city council members, too, pledged another $50,000.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana also donated $40,000 toward the application, and Osborne said several smaller donations came from patrons all over the country, ones for just $100 all the way up to $3,500.
The grant money will now be used to convert two-thirds of an existing warehouse on the museum property into a collection of expanded — sometimes interactive and "diorama-like" — exhibits. Among them will be a spot for radio equipment displays as well as plenty of floor space to show off the museum's collection of military vehicles.
It will also boast a corner dedicated to a bullet-ridden cathedral set which volunteers believe could have been used in the Tom Hanks blockbuster hit, "Saving Private Ryan."
The warehouse-turned-exhibit-space would feature exhibits in a sort of chronological order, moving from World War I to World War II to the Korean War and, finally, the Vietnam War.
Osborne also has a large collection of Pearl Harbor memorabilia — a U.S. Navy uniform worn during the attack by a Hoosier soldier, pieces of Japanese aircraft that were shot down and a piece of the U.S.S. Arizona — that would get a more prominent home.
The warehouse, too, will get a facelift with a new epoxy coated floor, a new ceiling and new lighting.
Osborne said he's already collected more than half the donations promised him late last year. He hopes to have the full $500,000 in place by springtime so work can begin.