Sunday, December 8, 2002

An angel museum in Wisconsin

A small museum that sits on the banks of the Rock River in southern Wisconsin is a heavenly spot for angel lovers.The Beloit Angel Museum features more than 7,500 angel statues displayed wing to wing in a former Roman Catholic church that was spared destruction so it could house the figures.The entire collection originally was displayed in their four-bedroom ranch house in Beloit, about 65 miles southwest of Milwaukee, but eventually the Bergs had to remove doors and install shelves to display all the figures.In July 1994, while out driving, they noticed St. Paul Catholic Church along the Rock River."When we drove past, the doors were open.... The sun was shining right on them. It was like they jumped right out because they were so noticeable," Joyce Berg said.The parish had been closed in 1988 after the death of its longtime pastor, and the Bergs learned that the church was scheduled to be demolished in eight months if it wasn't put to good use. The Bergs contacted former parishioners, and submitted a museum plan to city officials, who approved it.The church, now a historical landmark, was renovated with community development block grants, fund-raisers and volunteer help. The city owns the church and charges the museum $1 a year for rent.

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