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Beloit’s Angel Museum to close after 20 years

Saturday, Sept. 30 marked the last day the Angel Museum opened its doors to Beloiters and touring visitors. The museum, showcasing the world’s largest collection of angels, the private collection of 87-year old Joyce Berg, will close after 20 years of business and aims to sell 12,000 angel figurines.

Berg, the owner and operator, and her late husband Lowell gained an interest in angel figures after their children had grown, eventually collecting 13,156 figurines that they put on display at their Beloit home. They now hold the record for largest collection of angels. In 1998 they moved the collection into the current museum, located along the Rock River across the street from campus. The museum has been a fixture for many Museum Studies majors and for tourists, with more than 185,000 people having visited the museum over the years. The museum is now closing due to a lack of funding, sponsorship and volunteers, with attendance dwindling over time.

No two angels in the collection are alike, ranging in variety from shape, size, pop-culture reference and material. 600 African-American angels were donated by Oprah Winfrey. Many came from overseas and landed in the Bergs’ hands through thrift shops, flea markets, antique, yard, garage and estate sales. Berg plans to keep several thousand of her personal favorites, while the hope is to sell the  other 12,000 pieces to a single buyer, but if one is not found by Oct. 11 the collection will go up for auction.

Berg, who believes angels are real, was down to operating only three days a week with a lack in volunteers for running the gift shop, tours and selling tickets. The initial move into the former church space was leased for only $1 a month.

A farewell event is planned on Oct. 13 at the Angel Museum at 656 Pleasant St from 5:00-7:00 p.m. Attendance has been up in the museum since the announcement, and angels are on sale for any prospective buyer.  

Sources: Beloit Daily News, CBS Chicago

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