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Angel Museum celebrating milestone

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Kiernyn Orne-Adams | July 2, 2014

BELOIT -- For those who don't live here, Beloit can be a city of surprising attractions. Community-made public art, historic buildings and a beautiful riverfront are just some of the treasures awaiting intrepid visitors.

Tucked in an old church alongside the river is another local gem: the Angel Museum. A feature of numerous tourism books and websites over the years, this unique attraction continues to draw attention even as it strives to thrive in changing times.

Since 1998, the Angel Museum has offered visitors a glimpse at roughly 7,000 angels of every conceivable shape, size and style.

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The collection itself started in 1976 when museum founder Joyce Berg and her husband, Lowell, bought a small Italian figurine of two angels on a see-saw while vacationing in Florida.

Since then, it has expanded to include a number of different collections, including roughly 600 black angels donated by Oprah Winfrey. Despite their traditionally Christian association, the angels are meant to represent joy and goodness in the world rather than any specific theology. 

The Angel Museum is the only collection of its kind in the world, according to Berg.

While there is an angel museum in Japan, the collections there are mostly made up of paintings and pictures rather than the figurines that adorn the interior of this former Beloit church. In 2001, the Angel Museum made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest collection of its kind, a record that remains unbroken to this day.

These days, the museum is celebrating other milestones. This year marks the 100th anniversary of St. Paul's Church, the building that houses the collection.

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