The Angel Museum in Beloit, WI will be Closing at the end of the Season
Beloit’s Angel Museum has been home to more than 11,000 unique figurines and artifacts from more than 60 countries around the world for decades. Sadly, the museum is in its last season–they will close their doors at the end of September.
Everyone is invited to the final showing for the museum at the “20-Year Celebration and Farewell” event from 5-7 pm, Saturday, October 13, beginning at the close of the Downtown Beloit Association’s Wine Walk.
Joyce Berg and her husband, Lowell, began their love for–and collection of–angels after they purchased an Italian bisque figurine at an antique store while on a vacation in Florida in 1976. Their passion grew, and the space in their home soon dwindled. Word began to spread about their heavenly wards, and when they received a call from a group tour planner asking to bring a bus load to their home to view their collection, they knew it was time to start looking for a larger space.
“We were displaying angels in every room in our house, even the bathroom and kitchen and even had to do some remodeling to make them fit.” Berg said. “Lowel and I got caught up in the different ways artists can make angels.”
It was about that time that a landmark 1914 former Catholic Church on the banks of the Rock River was facing the possibility of being demolished. A grass-roots effort ensued to save the church from the wrecking ball. In the end, demolition was averted, and the Angel Museum opened to the public in 1998. The historic church, with beautiful stained-glass windows, was the perfect home for the Berg’s massive collection.
“The Angel Museum gave us more space to share the collection with the masses. It is a place where goodness prevails,” Joyce explained.
It was a very popular time for angel enthusiasts and the museum welcomed 25,000-30,000 visitors annually from all over the globe. The Berg’s personal collection of more than 13,000 figurines and artifacts earned her a place in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2001, and Joyce has been featured in nearly every major newspaper and magazine including: People, the Chicago Tribune, Smithsonian Magazine, Newsweek, The Globe, and even the National Enquirer!
“Buying our first angels wasn’t planned. We just happened stop at antique store with angels in the window when we were on vacation.” said Joyce.
In 1998, TV icon, Oprah Winfrey, started receiving black angels from fans after she noted on her show that she never saw black angels. With that, her fans sent more than 600 of them to Harpo Studios. Oprah had no place to store them and politely asked her fans to stop sending them. A representative of the Angel Museum contacted Oprah to inquire about the collection of black angels. Oprah donated her collection to the Angel museum. The staff loved caring for the collection over the years, and visitors were huge fans of the unique figurines.
In 2003, Lowell passed away, but Joyce continued to collect and carry on their passion for the museum. She had an angel crafted with an old man in a rocking chair sporting wings, a cup of coffee, and a crossword puzzle with Lowell’s name on it.
Over the last few years, the museum quieted down and the popularity of angels cooled down. It became increasingly difficult to draw visitors, members, and volunteers. This unfortunate combination led Joyce to make the difficult decision to close the museum at the end of the current season.
Joyce knows each angel by heart and placed each one in a case with love. She hopes now that someone will be able to keep them together.
Individuals interested in purchasing the entire collection may call David Allen (608-333-4586) or Rich Ranft (608-751-2184) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If the collection does not sell by the 11th, the pieces will go up in an online auction Saturday, October 13, at www.beloitauction.com.
Thursday – Saturday: 10 am–4 pm
656 Pleasant Street – Hwy 51
Beloit, WI 53511