PORTLAND — It’s the only place in the world to find the long, elegant dart gun Roger Patterson planned to use to drop Bigfoot in California after first famously catching it — allegedly — on tape.
The only place with a little swatch displayed as a piece of the actual screen window the Fouke Monster poked its arm through, rattling Arkansas residents and inspiring “The Legend of Boggy Creek.”
The only place in Maine for a guaranteed Wessie sighting.
Well, at least an inch of her.
The new home of the International Cryptozoology Museum at Thompson’s Point fits in a little more weird, a little more “could it be real?” and a little more “there’s no way.”
(For the latter, see the adorable Wolpertinger with a bunny body, duck bill, duck feet and wings; it’s the European answer to the Jackalope.)
The Travel Channel TV show “Mysteries at the Museum” has filmed at the museum seven times, twice this year. The new space spans two floors and fittingly, after a gift shop selling knit Bigfoot scarves, the museum starts with founder and cryptozoologist Loren Coleman’s original inspiration: a photo from the 1958 movie “Half Human,” which he watched as a boy.
“I went to school the next week and I said, ‘What is this about the Yeti in the Himalayas?’ And they said, ‘They don’t exist, go back to your studies, leave me alone.’ Which means I really got interested,” Coleman said.
Next to the photo is the very first item he collected, with his sixth-grade teacher’s help: One of the actual flags on Sir Edmund Hillary’s Yeti expedition.
The museum acquired the one-of-a-kind dart gun as a gift from Tom Page, the Ohio millionaire who financed a search for Bigfoot after Patterson and Robert Gimlin claimed to film one in Bluff Creek in 1967.
“That’s the actual gun that they went out with on expeditions,” Coleman said. “Peter Byrne and Roger Patterson, the guy who took the film, they felt they were like two days away from shooting Bigfoot.”
It’s featured next to a vial of dirt from Bluff Creek.
“Tom Page is dying and he donated his whole collection to the museum,” Coleman said. More and more, that’s how he’s coming into new acquisitions: “A very good friend, a co-author, died just last Wednesday and he donated before he died 10 boxes of all his research. The museum is going to publish his unpublished book on merbeings.”
(Yes, that’s mermaids and mermen.)
The museum has a collection of 40,000 books, most of them in storage.
“Our eventual next big task is to get a research library, hopefully someplace around here,” he said.
Coleman has built a new Wessie display around a sample of the 10-foot-long snakeskin found in Riverbank Park in Westbrook in August. Snake sightings made news all summer.
“We have part of the skin because I know the scientist in Texas who did the DNA testing and he had some left over and he sent it up here for me to exhibit,” he said.
That scientist determined the skin belonged to a 10- to 12-year-old green female anaconda.
“Because of the way the police and the photographer spread it out, (the skin) looked planted, but it was found in a different configuration,” Coleman said.
He believes it could be an escaped pet — and a dangerous one. He’s been out looking for it four times.
(He and the museum will be at Wessie Fest in two weeks, a bit of snake-theme fun complete with a Wessie Pie-Thon contest.)
Another new piece on the first floor: 2-foot-tall, incredibly creepy folk art of the Dog Man made by a Midwest psychiatric patient 50 years ago, complete with wild black hair, red eyes and a burlap sack body. Dog Man sightings are reported around Michigan and Wisconsin.
“They’re sometimes seen over roadkill, eating,” Coleman said. “It is kind of like a werewolf, but it never transitions into a human. My own personal notion is it very much may be Bigfoot but misidentified.”
The unnerving sculpture will be featured on an upcoming “Mysteries at the Museum.” The question for Coleman, apart from “Does the Dog Man exist?” is “Did this patient see one?”
“The person I got it from said, ‘My partner’s actually glad to get this out of the house,'” he said. “And my wife would not let it come into the house.”
The International Cryptozoology Museum is filled with artwork, models large and small, pop culture mementos, plaster casts and potential evidence likely to either cement belief or lead to a fun hour of “what if?”
Ashley Lauber and Molly Zimmerman from San Diego, in Maine for a wedding, had been in Portland for less than a day this week when they spotted the museum on a city map. They’d never heard of it or cryptozoology before.
“She’s a science person,” Lauber said. “I had no idea what I was getting into.”
They bought a pack of Bigfoot playing cards and had a “great photo shoot” with the 8½-foot, oxen-haired Bigfoot model upstairs.
“That really made the whole thing worthwhile,” Zimmerman said. “It just makes me intrigued. I don’t believe any of it. It’s very fascinating to see the amount of paraphernalia that has been collected around folklore monsters.”
The museum has a grand opening planned for its new space Oct. 28 to Oct. 31. The 30-piece “Monsters in America” art show will kick off at the same time and the museum will also unveil its newest model, a 4½-foot tall Orang Pendek, a long-rumored Indonesian cryptid.
Weird, Wicked Weird is a monthly feature on the strange, intriguing and unexplained in Maine. Send ideas, photos and Wolpertingers to email@example.com