Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 24th, 2009
International Cryptozoology Museum due to open in Arts District Nov. 1
By David Carkhuff
Staff writer / Portland Daily Sun
Bigfoot is moving into the Arts District.
But the 8-feet-tall, 400 pound legend won’t lumber down there alone. Look for jackalopes, furred trout, Hollywood cryptid-related props such as a P. T. Barnum-inspired 3.5-foot-tall Feejee Mermaid, the TV series “Freakylinks”‘ 11-foot-long “Mystery Civil War Pterodactyl” and some of the movie Magnolia’s falling frogs.
Welcome to the world of cryptozoologist and, as of Nov. 1, public museum curator, Loren Coleman.
A day after Halloween, the International Cryptozoology Museum, Coleman’s brainchild, will open to the public at 661 Congress St.. For a $5 admission fee, visitors will be able to browse exhibits while dabbling in Coleman’s chosen field of cryptozoology.
“Sure, it’s lighthearted and I think most people who are interested in cryptozoology are interested in the sense of humor part,” Coleman said, but the museum also wants to educate.
“The reason that I have all of the fakes is its sort of an educational process,” Coleman explained.
“Cryptozoology, the study of hidden animals, has been conceptualized since the 1940s, but the last few years have seen Bigfoot museums and cryptid exhibitions developed in a more organized fashion,” Coleman, a Portland resident, reports on his blog, www.cryptomundo.com.
After 50 years of researching hidden and as-yet undiscovered animals, Coleman has accumulated well over 250 items and exhibits, which means he will end up rotating out probably one fourth of his display every month to fit it all in.
The museum will reside in the back of a new book shop, The Green Hand, which is scheduled for a concurrent Nov. 1 opening. Michelle Souliere, who writes on the award-winning Strange Maine blog (not related to the Strange Maine shop on Congress Street, although both were reportedly inspired by similar source material), is opening the book shop, featuring horror, mystery and supernatural classics. (See the related story, The Green Hand reaches toward mystery.)
Coleman and Souliere corresponded over the years, and they had entertained the idea of pairing up their business ideas.
“She called up about four weeks ago, ‘I’m going to do it, I’m going to open a bookstore, and would you like to rent the back part?’” Coleman recalled.
Coleman said he jumped at the chance. Up until now, Coleman has kept his mystery-animal collection in his Portland home.
Michelle Souliere stands in front of the office where she plans to start the Green Hand book shop, along with a companion store, the International Cryptozoology Museum on Congress Street. (David Carkhuff Photo)
“One of my documentary filmmaker friends said, ‘Wow, Loren, you’ll get your home back.’”
“I will [need] a shoehorn to get the 50 years of stuff in,” Coleman confided, speaking during an interview on Tuesday.
“I’m going to have my 8-foot tall, 400-pound bigfoot, my coelacanth, the Feejee mermaid from the P.T. Barnum movie. I will have a lot of unique things that no one else in the world has,” Coleman said.
His Cryptomundo blog elaborates: “The museum modestly began with sculptures and paintings created just for it, hundreds of cryptids toys and souvenirs from around the world, one-of-a-kind artifacts, a life-size 8-feet tall Bigfoot representation, a full-scale six-foot-long coelacanth model (coelacanths are a new species of fish related to lungfishes and tetrapods found in eastern Africa), over a hundred Bigfoot-Yeti-Yowie footcasts” and sundry other artifacts. … “The centerpiece of the collection is the once elusive eight-feet-tall, 400-pound ‘Crookston Bigfoot,’ created by Wisconsin artist Curtis Christensen, which was permanently added to the collection of the International Cryptozoology Museum in 2004.”
Don’t expect camp and over-the-top monster scares in his museum and gallery.
“Special drawings, bronzes, paintings, and sculpture creations by the world’s leading cryptozoology artists are featured in the collection, from Richard Klyver, Lee Murphy, Duncan Hopkins, Peter Loh, Steve Goodrich, Bill Rebsamen, Jeff H. Johnson, Erik Gosselin, Paul Dini, and many others,” he wrote.
Coleman hopes to bring in five or six volunteers to work as docents and illustrate how cryptozoology pursues answers to nature’s mysteries.
Coleman said he doesn’t plan to cut back on his speaking schedule, which takes him all over the world. His blog, www.cryptomundo.com, is read by upwards of 1.9 million people [during extraordinary weeks], he said.
The museum should become a unique attraction to Portland’s Arts District, Coleman said.
“That whole area is exploding with development, and it’s changing the neighborhood. I think this will be great to have a museum that will attract people [from] all over the world, not just Portland,” he said.
Meanwhile, there’s the move to plan.
Five movers will handle the unusual and often delicate exhibits, Coleman said. It should be quite a day for rubberneckers when the Sasquatch is hauled into the book shop.
“You don’t see Bigfoot moved every day,” Coleman said.
Come see the full-size replicas of a coelacanth, an immature Cadborosaurus, a Sasquatch, a FeeJee mermaid, and some forthcoming surprises! Join hundreds of other members of the cryptozoology community in supporting the International Cryptozoology Museum as it opens in downtown Portland, Maine.
Please click on the button below (not the one up top) to take you to PayPal to send in your museum donation.
If you wish to send in your donation via the mails, by way of an international money order or, for the USA, via a check (made out to “International Cryptozoology Museum”) or money order, please use this snail mail address:
Loren Coleman, Director
International Cryptozoology Museum
PO Box 360
Portland, ME 04112
Thank you, and come visit the museum at 661 Congress Street, Portland, Maine 04101, beginning November 1, 2009!! This educational/scientific/natural history museum is not a 501(c)3.