The Angel Museum in Beloit, Wisconsin is home to the world’s largest private collection of angels, and I promise you a visit to the museum will be something you’ll never forget.
The Angel Museum – Beloit, WI
It all began in 1976 in an antique store in Florida, when Joyce and Lowell Berg fell in love with and purchased an Italian bisque figurine of angels on a see saw. Little did they know, their newfound passion for angels would one day result in more than 11,000 collectibles.
As their collection began to grow, they loved sharing it with others and would often take people through their home on tours, but eventually they realized they needed a public space. When they discovered St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Beloit was scheduled for demolition, they knew they’d found their new home, and the angels saved a church.
Now visitors to The Angel Museum will not only have the chance to see the angels, but the Italian Renaissance architecture, stained glass windows and lanterns of the century-old church.
When you visit The Angel Museum, you’ll have the pleasure of meeting the founder of the museum herself, Joyce Berg, who wears an elegant angel costume complete with halo and wings. She remembers where every single angel came from, and the stories she shares about them will touch your heart, as will Joyce herself.
One of my favorite stories was about the perfectly customized angel created in memory of her late husband, Lowell. It sits in the middle of the lighted display case in his honor, and each detail is a reflection of Lowell himself, right down to the ice cream in his coffee.
Looking back, it appears angels were always to be their destiny. When they first started dating, Lowell used to call her “Angel”, and after they married, they received a gift of two pretty little angels dressed in navy blue. While searching through an old family box of trinkets, they also found a button and belt buckle decorated in cherubs.
Today, visitors can view these special angels which come from all over the world. You’ll find teeny tiny angels, tumbling angels, clown angels, a meringue angel, flying angels, bride and groom angels, a life size angel, even Wisconsin cheese head angels and drunken angels. Also on display are angels in the form of bells, pencil sharpeners, napkin holders, bobble heads, lipstick cases, and pie vents. And not one is a duplicate.
Another special part of the collection are 600 black angels donated by Oprah Winfrey. Oprah had casually remarked on her show one day, “Why are there no black angels?” and her fans responded by sending in hundreds of them which she later gifted to The Angel Museum.
A visit to the museum is an absolutely magical experience. Or perhaps… the correct word is heavenly.
I saw so many unique and wonderful angels in the Angel Museum, and although Joyce is quick to say she doesn’t have a favorite collectible because she doesn’t want to hurt an angel’s feelings, I definitely found a favorite angel — Joyce herself.
The Angel Museum is open to visitors Spring through Fall, and includes a gift shop and café downstairs. It’s a not-for-profit organization, relying on volunteers, admission fees and donations to survive. Visit the website for more information.