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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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Rev. W. G. Kessler began the collections that grew into the Columbia Museum. Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald.

KESSLER, W. G. The COLUMBIA MUSEUM OF HISTORY, ART, AND SCIENCE was an unparalleled collection of art in Dubuque assembled under the direction of Archbishop Francis J.L. BECKMAN. The museum began in 1927 as a collection of Indian artifacts gathered by William G. Kessler, a young priest at COLUMBIA ACADEMY. (1) With the encouragement of Beckman, the collection expanded to occupy the lower floor of the Science Hall.

Rev. Kessler, who served as secretary of the Iowa Catholic Historical Society in 1935, served as secretary and treasurer of the MIDWEST ANTIQUARIAN ASSOCIATION in 1936. (2) This organization published The Midwest Antiquarian, a yearbook summarizing the activities of the museum during the past year. This publication was supplemented by the Columbia Museum News which quarterly had stories of different phases of the museum's work and progress. (3) Kessler organized a board of directors and public relations committee for the museum in 1937. (4) In continuing to publicize the museum in the same year, Kessler, designated the curator of the museum, wrote an article for The Midwest Antiquarian entitled, "The Curator Speaks." (5)

Rev. W. G. Kessler began the collections that grew into the Columbia Museum. Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald.

Following the close of the museum around 1942, Rev. Kessler became the director of the COLUMBIA VISATONE AND PUBLICATION SERVICE. He was also the editor of its publications which included "Your Mass Visible," "Prayer Book for Catholic Servicemen" and "Prayer Book for Catholics in the Armed Service." (6) In 1946 Rev. Kessler was the pastor of St. Catherine's Church on the Bellevue Road south of Dubuque. (7)



1. "Columbia Museum Experiences Real Progress; Hosts to KC Board Saturday," Telegraph-Herald, October 17, 1937, p. 22

2. "Mazzuchelli Centennial at Sinsinawa Next Wednesday," The Telegraph-Herald, May 19, 1935, p. 13

3. Ibid.

4. "New Yearbook is Circulated," Telegraph-Herald, July 29, 1936, p. 14

5. "Museum Given More Publicity," Telegraph-Herald, April 15, 1937, p. 5

6. "Prayer Books for Fighters," Telegraph-Herald, December 5, 1943, p. 8

7. "Sunday in the Churches," Telegraph-Herald, February 10, 1946, p. 21