BY TOM BELL – Kennebec Journal
PORTLAND — Bigfoot is coming to Congress Street.
Loren Coleman, an expert on creatures that exist at least in the imagination, but have yet to be documented by scientists, is about to open the International Cryptozoology Museum, the only one of its kind in the world.
Coleman will rent a U-Haul van and move his 8-foot-tall, 400-pound Bigfoot sculpture, which now stands on the front porch of his home on Massachusetts Avenue in Portland, to a storefront window at 661 Congress St.
The museum, opening on Nov. 1, will feature fake artifacts, such as full-body mounted jackalopes and “cryptids,” creatures whose existence has been suggested but lacks scientific support.
Coleman owns a model of the Loch Ness monster that was made from descriptions of those who claim to have seen the creature, and he says he has a foot cast and hair sample from the Abominable Snowman, both found during a 1959 expedition in the Himalayas.
One of the most curious artifacts will be Coleman himself.
Coleman is considered a leading expert in the field of cryptozoology, which refers to the search for animals that are considered legendary or otherwise nonexistent by mainstream biologists.
Three years ago, when an ugly creature that became known as the “Maine Mutant” was found dead in Turner, it was Coleman who rushed to the scene and announced to the world that the creature was just a dog, which DNA results later confirmed.
Coleman has written 17 books on cryptozoology and has been an on- and off-camera consultant to NBC-TV’s “Unsolved Mysteries,” A&E’s “Ancient Mysteries” and the History Channel’s “In Search of History.”
For the past six years, he has housed his International Cryptozoology Museum in his home, open to the public by appointment.
Coleman, 62, said he has been getting e-mails from cryptozoology fans all across the country, as well as in Europe and Asia.
“Portland is going to be the epicenter of the world of cryptozoology now,” he said.
The museum will open in what is becoming Portland’s funky business district.
Strange Maine, at 578 Congress St., is a performance space and shop that caters to “freaks” and “weirdos,” according to its own Web site.
The Fun Box Monster Emporium, at 696 Congress St., sells stuff such as vintage Snork figures, kung fu posters and Shogun Warriors toys.
Coleman’s museum will be in the rear of a new bookstore called the Green Hand, which will specialize in supernatural fiction, horror fiction and weird fiction.
The stretch of Congress Street between Park and State streets has been like a Devil’s Triangle for new ventures because so many have come and gone over the years, said Nancy Grayson, owner of Cunningham Books at 188 State St.
She said she hopes the Green Hand and the International Cryptozoology Museum will change the pattern.
“Nothing has worked in those two blocks,” she said. “If they can get something going that is positive, that is great.”
Mike Discatio, co-owner of Joe’s Smoke Shop, said Bigfoot will feel right at home in the neighborhood.
“I’ve seen it all here,” he said. “Nothing fazes me anymore.”