Unique New England Museum: International Cryptozoology Museum

BIGFOOT GREETING-Big Foot greets visitors to the Inernational Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine

By Carla Charter

Loren Coleman, director of the International Cryptozoology Museum has been fascinated with Cryptids since 1960. A Cryptid is a reported creature which has not been scientifically verified. “As a child I saw a movie on the Yeti and Cryptozoology. I then went to school and asked my teachers what a Yeti and Cryptozoology was. I was told three things. They don’t exist, get back to your studies and leave me alone.  I went to the library and started reading books on Cryptozoology and corresponding with cryptozoologists.  At the age of 12, I started field investigations with game wardens, police officers and on my own. “

Coleman’s interest soon expanded from Yetis to other cryptids as well. He attended Southern Illinois University-Carbondale graduating with a degree in Anthropology with a minor in Zoology. Coleman also earned a Masters at Simmons School of Social Work.  Throughout the years Coleman collected Cryptozoology souvenirs, art pieces and evidence from investigations.

Coleman’s museum is the only one in the world dedicated to Cryptozoology and was founded in 2003. “One reason I opened the museum is that in my house basement and U Haul storage unit I had 450 plastic totes and 40,000 books on cryptozoology.”  The museum will be expanding to include an archives and research library which will include Coleman’s research as well as research donated by others to the museum. “Our museum is educational, scientific and also fun,” said Coleman.

Coleman said there are reports of cryptids in New England, including Champ the elusive Lake Champlain sea monster.  “ There were legends of Sea serpents in New England,” he continued.  Another New England cryptid is the Dover Demon from Massachusetts, which Coleman said he had named.

The Museum does have evidence of New England cryptids including a 12-foot-long skin which is on display.  “There were reports of a giant snake In Westbrook, Maine and the police found this skin.” Coleman said.

There have been Bigfoot reports in the Berkshires adding there are active groups of searchers in Massachusetts. There have also been reports in the Western Mountains of Maine. “The Algonquin Tribes have legends of Wendigos, which are a native name for what the English call Bigfoot. “The museum also has a 9-foot Bigfoot display People can come and take a picture in front with Big Foot. It has become an iconic picture that people post on Facebook.” The museum has a Yeti hair sample from the 1959-1960 of Sir Edmund Hillary.

In the 1800’s, a large white Spectral Moose was reported in Maine. “It was written about in hunting magazines in the 18th century.”  There is the Turner terror in Turner, Maine which is a wolf-like creature almost a hyena like creature.

“Being an international museum,” Coleman continued, “we also have a display of an Orang Pendek.  It is 4 feet tall it is covered in hair and stands up straight coming from Sumatra and Indonesia.”

As for personal encounters, Coleman said he had a black panther encounter in Illinois in the late 1960s, adding there are black panther reports in New England as well. During investigations in the South, Coleman continued, he has heard screeches of a Bigfoot like creature. In 1999, Coleman was involved in a Loch Ness Monster Project. “We were there for two weeks on the surface and we did not see anything.”

As for the skeptics Coleman said “We are very skeptical ourselves. We ask people to be skeptical and open minded at the same time., that’s what we do. Eighty percent of cryptid sightings are misidentification and mistakes. Twenty percent of the sightings can’t be explained.”

Some animals well known today, first began as cryptids, including Mountain Gorillas, Giant Pandas and Okapi. “We have a display entitled ‘Classic Animals of Discovery’ which present known animals which were former cryptids.”

Coleman has written 40 non-fiction books on the subject of Cryptozoology and other mysteries. He has appeared on television programs including Finding Big Foot, In Search Of, Monster Quest and Mysteries at the Museum.

The International Cryptozoology Museum is located at Thompsons Point in Portland, Maine.   They are open Sunday, Monday and Wednesday from 11-4 and Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 am to 6 p.m. They are closed on Tuesday.  More information on the International Cryptozoology Museum can be found at www.cryptozoologymuseum.com.

BIGFOOT GREETING-Big Foot greets visitors to the Inernational Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine