The Year of 2016 in Review:
International Cryptozoology Museum
by Loren Coleman, Director
The International Cryptozoology Museum (ICM) was founded in August 2003, and became a fully sanctioned 501(c)3 nonprofit federal and State-of-Maine nonprofit museum in 2011. We have continued to expand our mission in the last 13 years.
During 2016, the ICM experienced a series of ground-breaking developments that will propel us through 2026 and beyond. This is a formal summary of those events for our Board of Directors, our ICS/ICM members, and the general public.
(1) During the first week in January 2016, the traveling exhibition of “The Minnesota Iceman” from Austin, Texas’ Museum of the Weird ended its nearly six-month stay at the International Cryptozoology Museum.
(2) We held the first International Cryptozoology Conference on January 4-5-6, 2016, in America’s Oldest European-Settled City ~ St. Augustine, Florida. An outstanding lineup of speakers was presented to the well-attended conference.
The First International Cryptozoology Conference speakers and attendees, 2016.
ICM Board Member Michelle Souliere greets attendees with hospitality bags, information, and items to purchase to support the Museum.
(3) During the Conference, the Board of Directors formed and announced the creation of the International Cryptozoology Society following in the legacy of the International Society of Cryptozoology (which had to become defunct in 1998 due to fiscal reasons). See more here.
(4) Due to conversations, introductions, and brainstorming at the Florida conference, a ground-breaking new book Neanderthal: The Strange Saga of the Minnesota Iceman was published. Our International Cryptozoology Society President Paul LeBlond’s translation of Bernard Heuvelmans’ book on Homo pongiodes, with a new “Afterword” by Director Loren Coleman and editing by ICM Board Member Patrick Huyghe, was published late in 2016 by Anomalist Books.
(5) Building a New Museum
Thompson’s Point’s Chris Thompson and the International Cryptozoology Museum’s Loren Coleman sign the letter of intent to lease in 2015.
Architect Katherine Detmer’s 3-D plans, developed, early in the process, a promise of the Museum to come.
Builder Nat Towl (NWT Woodworking) went to work on building the Museum in March 2016, and finished in time for us to open on July 1, 2016.
Enormous credit for finding funding for the building and support of the Thompson’s Point move goes to ICM Board Member Jeremy Efroymson. The Efroymson Family Fund was a major contributor to 2016′s successes. Many members and friends of the ICM contributed funds too.
(7) New Bigfoot carving
In 2016, a new ICM Bigfoot was carved by Snuffy Destefano of Ohio.
The Bigfoot, named “Elwood,” was transported from Ohio to Maine by Bigfooter Ed Brown (in red baseball cap). It was placed in front of our new Thompson’s Point entryway.
Assistant Director Jeff Meuse rests for a moment on Elwood’s base.
ICM staff member Jean Tewksbury gets acquainted with Elwood.
The carved Bigfoot rapidly became a Thompson’s Point landmark in the summer (above) or winter (below).
(8) Conference presentations
Loren Coleman and Assistant Director Jeff Meuse present about the ICM for the two-part “Exploring the Unexplained: Mysteries, Monsters, and Archives” panel, at the New England Archivists’ Spring Meeting, April 2, 2016, at the Inn By The Bay, Portland, Maine.
The International Cryptozoology Museum had a presence at several conferences in 2016. Among them were:
Loren Coleman and Josh Gates at ParaCon 2016.
In Milwaukee, at the ICM info and vendor table.
(9) Wessie investigations, publicity, exhibits, and fest
Based on the Ohio festival (Python Days) created in the wake of the 1944 reports, a suggestion was given to the City of Westbrook to hold a “fest.”
Loren Coleman authored a historical giant snake article for the Bangor Daily News on August 24, 2016, and was quoted for the September 1, 2016, issue of Down East Magazine (“Where’s Wessie“ by Jaed Coffin).
The Wessie Fest was created and held on October 22, 2016. The ICM was part of the event.
Special, limited edition teeshirts were made due to the Wessie interest.
Some of the Cub Scouts who asked ICM Volunteer Dan Knight at the Wessie Fest table questions about giant snakes.
(10) The Move and Soft Opening
The “Married With Jet Lag” (@Marriedw_JetLag) travel blog writers (Brandilee and Malcolm) were the last patrons to visit the old Avon Street museum site, before it was shuttled late in June 2016, for two weeks, to move the contents to Thompson’s Point.
Mandate 33 and others helped us with the first phase of the re-location, and then Local Muscle Moving Company did the heavy lifting move in June. Via social media (@CryptoLoren), we kept people informed on the quick progress. We were in place June 29, 2016, to re-curate for five straight days and nights.
The lines we found outside at Thompson’s Point were amazing and fantastic! We are kidding. On July 1, 2016, the ICM opened and during the 4th of July weekend, the Museum had immediate success. Never mind that our neighbor, the Bissell Brothers brewery was the destination for most of the people waiting in the lines, the spillover between the businesses did occur. Thompson’s Point, with parking right out front, was a welcome new home for the Museum.
At conferences and in New England, print, television, and radio media asked us to detail the ICM move and new building occurring at Thompson’s Point in Portland, Maine.
(12) The Museum on Television
The ICM continued to be a frequent site for companies filming cryptozoology features, whether from Mysteries and Monsters to Finding Bigfoot.
During 2016, for example, the ICM & Loren Coleman had two segments on Mysteries at the Museum about the Dover Demon and the mysterious Beast of Bray Road. Along with repeats of the ICM’s other appearances, many visitors remarked on seeing us on Mysteries at the Museum.
(13) Orang Pendek
Board Member Kim Parkhurst (on left), who created the life-size Tatzelwurm in 2015, sculpted and donated to the ICM a full-scale model of Sumatra’s Orang Pendek. It was installed at the Museum during our Grand Opening.
The Orang Pendek is temporarily housed next to the 8 ft tall Crookston Bigfoot. However, because so many patrons think Parkhurst’s replica is a “baby Bigfoot,” despite several signs to the contrary, the Museum will be changing the location for the Orang Pendek.
(14) Grand Opening on Halloween
The official Grand Opening occurred Halloween weekend, and involved several special events, including a traveling art show, Kim Parkhurst’s Orang Pendek installation, a costume contest, and book signing.
(15) Community Outreach
Besides shelter-care residents, special education classes, residential elders, homeschool clusters, and gift youth clubs, staff at the ICM visit community groups and tourist events to discuss the mission of education and scientific learning happening at the Museum.
The ICM’s appearance at the 2016 Greater Portland Convention + Visitors Bureau’s annual “Frontline Hospitality Orientation” event served as the organization’s feature photograph for their report.
At our new site at Thompson’s Point, we are actively pushing the envelope, and during 2017, we will be expanding our hours on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 am to 5:30 pm, starting February 10, 2017. For 2018, we have exciting news about expanding our resources in the archival arena.
Come visit us, if you haven’t. And come back, if you have. We change often. We keep the experience fresh for all.
The Year 2017 began with a bang, with the ICM being picked for a “best of” list (above) on January 1, 2017. An article on January 2, 2017, noted the Wessie snake skin shed was moving to the Museum.
Then there appeared an outstanding Travel Section feature article in the Los Angeles Times, in the Sunday edition of January 22, 2017. The piece by Susan Farlow was accompanied by a gallery of photographs of the Museum’s contents (example above).
Onward for the roller coaster ride of 2017…
Loren Coleman, Jenny Coleman and Jeff Meuse on the Expedition Everest ride, January 2016.
Check back for more on our 2017 Conference, soon.