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Crypto-museum

11/06/03 12:00AM By Joe Citro
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(Host) Many museums offer unusual exhibits, but commentator Joe Citro has found an entire museum full of surprises.


(Citro) One of the strangest museums I've discovered recently is in Portland, Maine. It's an unassuming two-story house on a quiet residential street. Nothing outside will alert you to its bizarre interior. You walk up the steps, open the porch door, and... what's that? A life-size mock-up of Bigfoot. Its eight-foot bulk is almost enough to scare you away, but keep going. The curiosities multiply as you step inside.

You've just entered the International Museum of Cryptozoology, and also the home of one of the world's most respected cryptozoogists, Loren Coleman. Known for multiple books, articles, and media appearances, Mr. Coleman is new to the curating business. But over the years his private collection of peculiar artifacts grew so big that he had no place to store them. His solution was cohabitation.

Today his multiple roommates include a full-sized, anatomically correct coelacanth, a six-foot fish presumed to have been extinct for 65 million years, but found alive in 1938.

There are also replicas of many oddities I have discussed on this program over the years, including a Feejee mermaid, the Dover Demon, Mothman, and various aquatic conundrums like the Loch Ness Monster and his American cousin, Champ.

And of course, there's Bigfoot, that large hairy hominid that has been seen, fleetingly, in every American state and almost every country of the world. Most recently - in the last couple of months - down around Bennington, Vermont. Mr. Coleman displays Bigfoot hair samples and enough authentic casts of Bigfootprints to lead any Cryptozoologist on a merry chase.

Though everything is presented with Mr. Coleman's unfailing good humor, the Cryptozoology Museum is no joke. Its point is that some of these unknown animals may really be out there. The museum provides a place to centralize data, conduct discussions, and introduce curious people to an unusual science that's guaranteed to pique anyone's curiosity. The whole place is a feast for the imagination.

If you visit, keep an eye open for the Chupacabras, various Mystery Cats, and a dummy space alien autographed by Betty Hill, New Hampshire's own Queen of the Cosmos. You can use the other eye for winking as you examine specimens of Jackalopes, and the infamous fur-bearing trout. There are also museum-quality skulls of various known bipeds, so you can speculate exactly where Bigfoot might fit on our family tree.

Like many of its inhabitants, Mr. Coleman's Portland museum is a little difficult to find. But any good cryptozoologist can ferret it out. I promise the hunt will be worthwhile. Maybe I'll see you there!

This is Joe Citro.

Related link:
International Cryptozoology Museum web site has information on exhibits, findings and tours, and how to contact Loren Coleman.

Joe Citro lives and writes in Burlington. His latest novel is "Deus-X: the Reality Conspiracy."

2003 Copyright Joseph A. Citro

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