I Went to a Cryptozoology Museum and Everything Was Ridiculous


Fur Bearing Trout

It’s been named the 7th weirdest museum in the world by TIME, which was all I needed to know before deciding to spend a morning at the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

What the hell is cryptozoology?

Oh, man.

Cryptozoology is the study of animals that have not yet been proven to exist. Bigfoot. Kraken. Yeti. The Loch Ness Monster. The Ghost Deer (deer that’s impervious to bullets). The Globster (decaying sea monster shaped like a blob). The Loveland frog (frog that stands upright on two feet). Mothman (lol). The Ayia Napa sea monster (can’t stop raving). Man-Eating Trees.

Yes, Cryptozoology is a pseudoscience that’s all about proving these animals truly exist, and the International Cryptozoology Museum is the only museum in the world that’s dedicated to showcasing the hidden creatures that may be living alongside us.

International Cryptozoology Museum

Just like when I visited Roswell, I approached the museum with an open mind.

It’s easy to mock the people who decide to devote their lives to chasing the Abominable Snowman, but as I was reminded upon entering the museum, the colossal squid and duck-billed platypus were once believed to be folklore until their discovery. So was the okapi and giant panda. Komodo dragons and mountain gorillas were believed to be a myth up until the early 1900’s.

It’s that fact that convinced me to hold my judgment and see what the museum had in store for me. I was more than willing to be convinced there were plenty of other cryptids (the name given to animals who have not yet been proven to exist) waiting to be uncovered.

I was excited to study the scientific evidence the museum presents to its visitors and come to my own, non-biased-by-my-science-background conclusion.

Santa Claus family tree

Putting the family tree of Santa Claus up on display was probably not the best approach to convince me this museum was going to be based on hard scientific evidence.

It was, however, an excellent indication that this place was going to be exactly what I had been hoping for: an excuse to giggle a lot.

Bigfoot display at the Cryptozoology Museum
A couple of bigfoots (bigfeet?) interrupting a barbecue

The museum opened its doors back in 2003 thanks to local researcher and cryptozoologist Loren Coleman, who decided to share his personal collection with the outside world. He’s one of the most reputable cryptozoologists out there, having authored several books on the topic, as well having made regular appearances on TV and radio. It was because of this that I couldn’t get my head around why the entire place felt like an enormous piss-take.

There was no science behind any of it. There were statues of freaking Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There was the Santa Claus family tree. There was talk of mermaids and fairies and werewolves and…

What was most baffling of all was that only Dave and I seemed to find the experience amusing. Cryptid fans swirled around us, whispering of Bigfoot sightings and comparing their favourite story of the Dover Demon. Much like in Roswell, I felt like an outsider in a tribe full of — um, I’ll be polite here — gullible people.

It was so freaking weird.

Fur Bearing Trout

Monsters at the Cryptozoology Museum

Cryptid elephant thing

Monsters of America map
Personally, I’m a huge fan of Knobby.

I’ll be honest with you: I learned very little from the International Cryptozoology Museum, but what I did learn will stick with me forever.

(Because it was too bizarre to ever forget.)

Like Mothman.

Mothman

Half-man and half-moth, this seven-foot-tall creature with no head and red eyes is often sighted just before or after disaster strikes. Most notably, Mothman was spotted sitting atop Point Pleasant’s Silver Bridge in 1967, just moments before it collapsed into the river. Damn you, Mothman!

Next up: the FeeJee Mermaid.

FeeJee Mermaid

The FeeJee Mermaid is said to exist in the South Pacific, and is a hybrid between a monkey and a fish. A quick google, however, tells me that the “mermaid” used to be common in circuses, where staff would sew a monkey’s head to a fish’s body and present it as a mummified mermaid. Personally, I’m not sure why it’s in a cryptozoology museum if it’s a known fake, but little did I know, this was going to become a very common theme. Perhaps the only theme.

Next up: the Civil War Pterodactyl!

Civil War Pterodactyl

The Civil War Pterodactyl was supposedly discovered by a handful of civil war soldiers, but was later discovered to be a hoax. SO WHY IS IT IN THE MUSEUM?

Ahem.

Oh wait, this one’s a fake:

Fakes at the Cryptozoology Museum

I absolutely adored that the museum had a cabinet dedicated to “fakes”, because isn’t that essentially the entire contents of the museum?

Here’s a painting of a family portrait, Bigfoot included:

Family Portrait with Bigfoot

There was an entire section devoted to the Dover Demon: a small, pale, large-eyed creature spotted over the space of just one week in April 1977, in Dover, Massachusetts.

Dover Demon

And I can’t not mention the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and bigfoot that was totally getting ready for fall.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle

Bigfoot is ready for fall

I’m going to say it: this museum was totally worth the $10 per person entrance fee, because spending 30 straight minutes laughing at the displays put me in a good mood.

But I do have some criticisms: the museum was small, chaotic, and disorganised. There was very little information about the cryptids beyond the date they were first spotted and where they’re known to roam. There were so many toys and stuffed animals and known hoaxes on display that it made the entire museum feel a little bit absurd.

If you’re a diehard cryptozoologist, you’ll probably get a kick out of seeing a fellow believer’s enormous collection for you to peruse.

If you’re open to the idea of cryptids existing and want to learn more about the study and history of them, this will be an enormous disappointment.

If you like looking at weird things, this is 100% worth visiting. I loved every second I spent there.

Maine Cryptozoology Museum

Would you go out of your way to check out the International Cryptozoology Museum?

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39 Comments

  1. October 24, 2017
    Reply

    Ummmm. Yeah. Right. Strange indeed. $10 eh. At least you had a unique day out ;)

    • October 25, 2017
      Reply

      As soon as I learned what cryptozoology was, I knew this was somewhere I had to visit! I love looking at weirdass things when I travel.

  2. October 24, 2017
    Reply

    Totally adding to my “to-do” list!

    • October 25, 2017
      Reply

      Yeah! It’s perfect if you like looking at weird shit :-D

  3. October 25, 2017
    Reply

    I try to keep an open mind, but this museum sounds hilarious. I would definitely spend some time there for $10 :)

    • October 25, 2017
      Reply

      It’s definitely near-impossible to even consider these things exist when they’re surrounded by so many weird toys and hoaxes, but totally worth the money to get you laughing :-)

  4. Jessica
    October 25, 2017
    Reply

    Is it bad I kinda wanna go, just to say I’ve been?!

    xoxo
    J

    • October 25, 2017
      Reply

      I’d say that’s probably one of the main reasons to go, haha! :-)

  5. Patti
    October 25, 2017
    Reply

    My husband I went there last year, it was hilarious.
    Also, I’ve really enjoyed seeing your pictures from your New England trip!! You definitely picked the best time of year to come here!!

    • October 26, 2017
      Reply

      Yes! We were so, so lucky with both the weather and the autumn colours! And I’m already plotting a return trip because I loved the whole area so much :-)

  6. October 25, 2017
    Reply

    I work in a museum. I’ll be handing in my transfer request in the morning.

  7. October 25, 2017
    Reply

    Hahaha, this is going straight on my list! I love weird museums! (The Roswell museum is also on my list thanks to your post haha!)

    • October 26, 2017
      Reply

      Ah, those two are easily two of the weirdest places I’ve ever been!

  8. October 26, 2017
    Reply

    This is flippin amazing. I would have been cracking up the whole time.

    • October 26, 2017
      Reply

      Right?! It was so awkward when there were other people there who were totally into this stuff!

  9. October 26, 2017
    Reply

    I bookmarked it simply because I would love to see all this sillyness in person.

    • October 27, 2017
      Reply

      It’s *totally* worth it!

  10. October 27, 2017
    Reply

    This looks like so much fun, I love quirky places like this. Would love to know what the six weirder museums in the world are!

  11. October 30, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Lauren, what a great way to start my Monday morning! We need more fun stuff to read about these days, so thank you for the entertainment!

    • November 7, 2017
      Reply

      No problem! So glad you enjoyed it :-)

  12. November 1, 2017
    Reply

    Hilarious! So worth the 10 bucks..

  13. November 2, 2017
    Reply

    I love small strange museums. The more bizarre the better, so I would definitely spend $10 to go here.

    • November 7, 2017
      Reply

      I do too! This is easily one of the strangest :-)

  14. Anja
    November 7, 2017
    Reply

    This is such a different museum. Everything looks so strange…

    • November 11, 2017
      Reply

      It’s worth visiting just to go to such an unusual place :-)

  15. August 5, 2018
    Reply

    Thanks for posting this first time I heard of this since I moved to Portland,I will definitely visit these place

  16. Allyson
    September 2, 2018
    Reply

    I am visiting Portland soon and want to visit this museum! How much time did you spend inside the museum? I want to make sure that I have enough time to spend at this crazy place!

    • September 3, 2018
      Reply

      It’s pretty small so you wouldn’t need more than around an hour to see everything :-)

      • Allyson
        September 5, 2018
        Reply

        Thank you! That’s good to know!

  17. Dahc
    December 3, 2018
    Reply

    Im planning to visit next April. I’m excited. Im the type of person that gives everything a chance. This is a gigantic planet we inhabit and mainstream science don’t know everything there is to know, and the problem i have with mainstream science is the one-track mind. Im open to possibilities. The Panda and Mountain Gorilla were both thought to be cryptids at one time until both were discovered, The Okapi was though to be folklore and the stuff of magical beast until they were found in the Congo. so I think cryptozoology is very official and has a place in science. I can’t wait!

    • January 8, 2019
      Reply

      Yep, definitely true. Mothman, however, I’m not so sure about.

  18. R.K.
    June 26, 2019
    Reply

    If they had a Bigfoot, Mothman, or Dover Demon they would probably not be displayed. They would have been dissected down to their last cell. A ten dollar cover charge would be, well, never mind. I like to think it will open one’s mind to the possibility of “encountering” a Cryptid. Everyone needs a little mystery in their lives. The real takeaway is being able to enjoy that rare experience ,even if it isn’t you having it. I’d say $10 is a steal of a deal to safely experience the unknown….

  19. Jennifer Coleman
    October 17, 2020
    Reply

    Hi! My name is Jenny Coleman. I am married to Loren Coleman, and I just wanted to say, firstly, “thank you” for visiting our museum. I cannot begin to emphasize strongly enough how much work Loren and I (not to mention our dedicated staff) personally put into this collection, which is constantly growing and evolving. Based on feedback such as this, we are also constantly improving the exhibits, and how they are curated. We recently obtained the large space in front of ICM, which enabled us to expand and rebrand, re-curating the near entirety of that space to Animals of Discovery (giant squid, etc.), the Dodo, the Thylacine, and other animals supported by science, not pseudoscience. We also have re-curated this expansion with a Tiki theme, for several reasons, amongst them an appreciation for indigenous cryptid sightings. The “small” part of the museum, pre-expansion, is now dedicated to hominids and the other cryptids you had mentioned. By definition, Mothman, the Dover Demon, and their ilk are part of cryptozoology (the study of hidden or unknown animals), and, while they may seem laughable to some, to those who have witnessed them, they are anything but. Part of cryptozoological study, then, must be to attempt to open-mindedly consider these reports and also consider logical explanations for them. Was “Mothman” actually an owl, or, as some reports have mentioned, merely a sandhill crane? I’m sorry you missed that aspect of the museum. I can assure you, however, it is not an intentional “piss-take”.
    Further, Loren actually doesn’t use the word “belief” or “believer” when referring to himself. He takes the information he’s presented and studies it from an open-minded stance. However, there are many “believers”, as well as skeptics, who visit our museum, and we welcome them all.
    The “toys” and “stuffed animals” are clearly indicated as part of cryptozoology in popular culture, as are the “fakes and hoaxes”…all are part of cryptozoological history, as it were, and therefore have a part in a cryptozoology museum such as ours.
    Notably, the coelacanth, a prehistoric fish still in existence, is on all our signage and in our logo, as the coelacanth is proof, scientific proof, that some animals presumed extinct actually may still be in our oceans, lakes, forests, and mountains.
    Such is the allure of cryptozoology, and I’m proud to be part of it.
    I’m glad you enjoyed your visit, and hope that you’ll visit our improved space in the future.

    Thank you.

  20. Jack
    October 18, 2020
    Reply

    Dear Jenny
    just for curiosity, what has ninja turtle to do with a cryptozoology museum?
    Thanks….

  21. April 20, 2021
    Reply

    Dear Jack

    Several items which are part of popular culture in modern society, such as the Ninja Turtles, have a direct precursor link to ancient folklore, for example to Japanese Kappas. We have replicas of Kappas and Ninja Turtles in the Museum as comparative illustrations of those cryptids.

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