The Portland Phoenix

Cryptozoology museum to leave Portland after 20+ years

the front of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland

The front of the International Cryptozoology Museum at Thompson's Point. Citing rising rents, founder Loren Coleman plans to move the museum, a Portland institution for more than 20 years, to Bangor in 2026. (Portland Phoenix/Evan Edmonds)

“Beer, whiskey, concerts… and monsters!”

That’s what visitors can find at Thompson’s Point in Portland. Many are likely familiar with the concert venue and the drinks. That last part — maybe not so much. 

Tucked between Stroudwater Distilling and Bissell Brothers at 4 Thompson’s Point Road is the International Cryptozoology Museum. Cryptozoology, the study of unknown or undiscovered animals, has just one museum dedicated to the genre in the world, and it’s right here in Portland — for the time being.

The International Cryptozoology Museum, a Portland institution founded by Loren Coleman, will be on the move when the lease runs out in 2026, at which point it will be fully moved to Broadway Street in Bangor.

The museum will turn 20 years old next August. It opened in 2003 on the first floor of a house that Coleman had bought, later relocating to Avon Street, and again to its current location in 2016. 

Coleman, a expert and enthusiast of the subject since before the word “cryptozoology” came to be in 1961, said that folks are most familiar with some of the “celebrity cryptids,” which include the Loch Ness Monster, the Yeti, and the most popular of them all, Bigfoot. 

A “replica” of Bigfoot stands among historical artifacts in the International Cryptozoology Museum. (Portland Phoenix/Evan Edmonds)

The two-floor museum explores them all — its largest section dedicated to Bigfoot. From huge furred replicas to news articles detailing sightings, the collection consists of various artifacts Coleman has gathered over the last 50+ years. The museum also holds pieces that can’t be found anywhere else: including original Bigfoot prints from 1958.

Coleman cited a combination of rising rents and the limitations of being surrounded by other growing businesses in his decision to move. He wanted to rent more property and expand at Thompson’s Point, but was denied by landlords because of other plans for surrounding properties.

Coleman looked elsewhere in Portland too, he said, before he and the museum’s board decided they needed to own their own space.

There will be some overlap when both renditions of the museum in Portland and Bangor will be open, Coleman said, but he expects the vast majority of the materials to be moved up to the Bangor space by the end of 2025 before fully closing the Portland location when the lease is up mid-2026.

“By the time we’re done, we’ll have a bigger museum up in Bangor, and it will be an architectural gem in the city,” Coleman said.

Until then, the main museum is ready and awaiting visitors. 

“We can get people from California, Japan, Nepal — and [when] they travel six months or two years from now it’ll be to Portland to visit this museum, and that’s gonna disappear, so they’ve got to plan ahead,” Coleman said.

Planning for enthusiasts worldwide will likely begin ahead of the 20-year anniversary, with an international Cryptozoology conference set to take place in Portland May 2023.

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