A Man and His (Weird) Museum

Posted by: Loren Coleman on October 6th, 2007

The Lewiston Sun Journal came for a visit to my museum. Here’s the way reporter Kathryn Skelton experienced it. And me. 🙂

Weird, Wicked Weird
A man and his (weird) museum

Hair from Sir Edmund Hillary’s Yeti expedition, water from Loch Ness, a 9-foot latex pterodactyl, Loren Coleman’s got it all.

Sometime next spring, Loren Coleman’s getting a 12-foot-long replica of Canada’s Ogopogo lake monster. It’ll probably have to stay on the porch, near his 8.5-foot-tall, oxen-haired Bigfoot.

Coleman is a little pressed for space indoors. There’s already a 9-foot latex pterodactyl camouflaged by an avocado tree and a cabinet of skulls with surly looking cuspids in the living room.

The International Cryptozoology Museum runneth over.

He’s tried to contain it, so far, to a single floor in his Portland home, and it makes for a sort of cryptid wild kingdom. There’s a busy brick wall in particular that TV and documentary crews love to pose him against when he talks about sea serpents and Bigfoots and Dover Demons.

Coleman is an authority on things that haven’t been found. Yet.

He started the museum, open by appointment, four years ago.

Coleman has been collecting tales, evidence and artifacts since he was 12. He’s got a resume that includes a surface expedition on Loch Ness, frequent spots on shows like Travel Channel’s “Weird Travels” and authoring or co-authoring 30 books. He’s also officially pop culture; the cryptozoologist in Vertigo’s “Swamp Thing” comic is named after him.

“I’ve traveled to every state in the United States except Alaska looking for creatures, giving talks, demonstrations, different things like that,” Coleman said, competing with the chatter of the museum’s only live specimens (his son’s Australian parakeets, Simon and Garfunkel).

Why no Alaska?

“I’m not a wealthy cryptozoologist. I’ve been able to drive to all those places and I used my frequent-flyer points to get to Hawaii,” he said. “I’m the first to say writers don’t make any money … and cryptozoologists are even lower in terms on the totem pole. But you know, it’s exciting. I’m an adventurist.”

He’s turned it into a full-time vocation, teaching at the University of Southern Maine for a long stretch. Coleman said he trades hundreds of e-mails a week with people wanting his opinion on sightings and photos, and to interview him. In June, a Japanese film crew flew him to Vermont to talk about Lake Champlain’s monster, Champ.

Through decades of contacts like that, he scored two favorite items in his museum: Hair from the separate Nepal Yeti expeditions of Sir Edmund Hillary and adventurist/oil man Tom Slick.

Though Hillary played a game of “What if?” with his specimen at the time, the hair is from a rare goat-like animal, Coleman said, and Hillary knew it.

The Slick specimen, a cluster of 50 or so brown, wiry hairs, has been tested and came back unknown. Coleman suspects it belonged to a 4-foot tall variety of Yeti.

“No one else in the world has these,” he said.

In other spots in the museum: The top half of a monkey sewed to a fish and passed off years ago as a Fiji mermaid; plush stuffed animals like Mothman; a Gigantopithecus skull (some people think it’s Bigfoot; Coleman says it’s too big) and loads of plaster Bigfoot casts.

Only some of his 25,000 cryptozoology books are on display. When his sons, both of whom are in college, move out, he’ll expand the museum and display more.

The home is in a dense suburb, nondescript except for the “Bigfoot parking” sign in the window. He makes it clear he’s not into ghosts, UFOs or psychic phenomenon and, for all the hundreds of interviews he’s given, Coleman claimed he’s actually pretty shy. Single, he joked about being a youthful 60 and wearing blue for TV cameras because it picks up the color of his eyes.

It’s going to take time, patience and money to find and authenticate the existence of some of the big, mythic creatures mentioned or portrayed in his museum, Coleman said. “I think there’s huge odds a lot of people are looking in the wrong place.”

He thinks there’s probably a population of 2,000 to 4,000 Bigfoot living in the Pacific Northwest. If he ever came nose to nose with one in broad daylight, “reporters want me to say I’d run away,” Coleman said.

He wouldn’t. Or, should that be, won’t.

“One time, I think I said I would actually stay and interview it,” Coleman said, laughing.

For daily crypto updates or to request a visit, check out Coleman’s blog at cryptomundo.comA man and his (weird) museum, By Kathryn Skelton , Staff Writer, Lewiston, Maine, Sun Journal, Saturday, October 6, 2007.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

10 Responses to “A Man and His (Weird) Museum”

  1. Rappy responds:

    So, you think the Slick hairs are from a Teh-lma? That’s quite neat. Interesting read, Loren.

  2. bill green responds:

    hey loren, very interesting new article. thanks bill green 🙂

  3. Ceroill responds:

    That was a nice article, Loren. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Bob Michaels responds:

    Loren, you just have to make more money, sell your life story, put it on a dvd title ” The making of a Cryptozoologist”.

  5. red_pill_junkie responds:

    Good interview, actually 🙂

  6. Bob K. responds:

    When I read the headline, my first thought was “Oh boy, here we go again-another hatchet job…”, but the article itself was quite good. Informative and objective. While it seems that Ms. Skelton wasnt a cryptonaught, she at least had the decency not to adopt a sarcastic and “clever” tone in order to make herself look sophisticated, and Loren….er, less so. In other words, she was what a reporter is supposed to be; objective, accurate, and as free of personal predjudice as possible. Nice job.

  7. poodpood responds:

    I suppose you have to be careful that you aren’t labeled a ‘sideshow’ museum. Not everyone gets cryptozoology, especially not the popular media.

  8. giantchaser responds:

    I love the part about standing there and interviewing Bigfoot.

  9. Loren Coleman responds:

    Of course, the only way to counter any pigeonholing of what exactly “cryptozoology” is and what a “cryptozoology museum” might be is to educationally share correct information with the world, right? After fifty years, does anyone really think I might be distracted by “mislabeling”? I forge ahead, being clear about what “cryptozoology” means, à la Sanderson and Heuvelmans.

    For new images from the museum, please see the October 7, 2007, posting by clicking on this hyperlink, “International Cryptozoology Museum.”

  10. DARHOP responds:

    Very cool article Loren. Nothing like having a museum in your own house, eh? I have a few thing’s (2 Harleys 1931 Model -A StreetRod, hundreds of hot wheels, mass PEZ’S etc.) but nothing like you I’m sure. I do have a piece of, I don’t know if it’s petrified or what. It seems more like rock to me. But it honestly looks kinda like a piece of poo. It doesn’t have your normal rock shape. It is about 3/4 of an inch around and about 3-4 inches long. I also have a piece of stone or something that has what looks like tiny animal bones in it. and a what looks like a bone protruding out of it. All the tiny bones look like they have been regurgitated. Anyway, I have a few things like that. I should take some photos of the stone stuff and send them to ya. If you were really interested in ’em I would be happy to send you the real things.

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