Seeing Bigfoot, the easy way | Life
PORTLAND, Maine – Looking for Bigfoot? The Loch Ness monster? The elusive Mothman of Point Pleasant, West Virginia?
You can spend thousands of dollars and travel more miles around the world in search of these and elusive creatures, or you can do the smart thing and visit the International Museum of Cryptozoology, where they await you. all.
“Cryptozoology” is a term coined to describe the study and research of creatures believed to exist in lore and legends, but which have not been verified by sober science. Think Sasquatch. Think of the Lake Champlain monster. Consider Glastonbury’s Glowakus, if you like.
Before anyone laughs, keep in mind that many animals, ranging from mountain gorillas to giant squid, were considered fantastic creatures for decades until specimens were found by researchers with eyes. piercing. So who’s to say Bigfoot isn’t out there, waiting for his close-up?
You will learn about the history of cryptozoology and more in this museum, which in itself has a story that illustrates how the passion and dedication of an individual can achieve unsuspected success.
The museum started out as humble as it gets, as a small exhibit in the Portland home of Loren Coleman, the institution’s founder, director and guiding spirit. Coleman, a prolific author and researcher, has been quoted in just about every major newspaper, magazine, and TV news show you’d want to name, researched for his expertise on everything from Thunderbird sightings to the mysterious things that fail on the shore of The Long Island Strait.
But you can’t keep a lid on a collection that includes an 8-foot Bigfoot statue and a 6-foot model of Coelacanth (a “living fossil” thought to be extinct from the days of the dinosaurs until ‘a coast of Africa in 1938), and Coleman found himself with growing crowds of curious visitors.
âThe space in my house was taken over by the museum,â he writes on the museum’s website. âIt was time to move.
The first movement came in 2009, when the museum found a home behind the Green Hand Bookstore in Portland’s Arts District. But once word got out, the collection quickly overtook that space, and soon after, they moved around the corner to a 3,000 square foot space. Lots of room, even for the biggest of Bigfeet, isn’t it?
Wrong. In 2016, the increasingly heavy collection moved slightly outside of crowded downtown Portland to Thompson’s Point, formerly a rail and marine hub that has been redeveloped to house shops, restaurants, galleries and the Abominable Snowman.
When you get to the latter location, you are treated to a vast spectacle of sheer strangeness spread over two full floors. The 8ft tall Bigfoot is here, of course, but so are less famous faces like the Jersey Devil, Flatwoods Monster, and Skunk Ape (to say nothing of the Orang
Pendek, the Yowie, the Mermaid Feejee and the Tatzelwurm). Exhibits that include everything from (alleged) yeti fur and Sasquatch footprints are jostling each other
for space with Hollywood movie props, folk art and even a letter from actor Jimmy Stewart.
You’ll see skulls, plaster casts, and maps depicting Mothman’s reported sightings that look like something from the first season of “True Detective.” You’ll see real dinosaur fossils and taxidermy animals alongside artfully crafted counterfeits and âghosts,â as the museum also documents numerous cases of hoaxes involving so-called âcryptidsâ.
Coleman is a showman, but he’s also seriously interested not only in the possibility that fabulous beasts actually exist in the world, but also in how we imagine these creatures. As a result, the museum is replete with advertisements, consumer products, and entertainment industry ephemera documenting society’s enduring fascination with unexplained beast sightings.
The ever-expanding museum is proof of this fascination, and it has attracted not only
Portlanders and summer tourists, but also celebrities and artists passing through the larger town of Vacationland.
Famous visitors to the museum, whose photos can be exhibited alongside blurry images of shaggy humanoids, include “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn, comedian and former Daily Show correspondent Wyatt Cenac, the musicians David Byrne and Sean Lennon (John’s son), and pretty much every heavy metal that’s within 30 miles of Portland.
But the best possible close encounter at the museum is with Coleman himself. A busy man, he nonetheless constantly passes by the place whenever he is in Portland and does not travel the world in search of the inexplicable. This is not an exaggeration; Coleman is constantly in demand for his expertise, as with a New York Times article this summer on revelations that the FBI had previously conducted forensic tests on Bigfoot’s alleged fur in an attempt to find the elusive inhabitant of the forest.
A thoughtful and intense conversationalist, Coleman has a great wealth of stories from his travels and research, and is happy to share them with curious visitors. And he’s probably a lot happier now that he doesn’t have to share his house with an 8ft tall Sasquatch anymore.
The International Cryptozoology Museum is open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the last admission at 5:30 p.m. Admission for adults is $ 10, seniors and children 12 and under paying less. The museum is housed in a brick building in the Thompson’s Point development, next to a brewery pub. GPS directions can be confusing, so visit the website (www.cryptozoologymuseum.com) for more details. Once you get to Thompson’s Point, it’s not hard to find; it is the only company with a 9 foot Bigfoot sculpture on the front.