Bigfoot, aliens and synchronized swimming all in one venue.
Several news sites state that the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium in Northwest Portland opened in April 2011. I had to reread that several times. I’ve been to The Peculiarium a few times now, most recently for “Palindromania,” and prefer to believe the museum’s official history:
“Famed and yet unknown Portland adventurer Conrad Talmadge Elwood had a dream, but forgot it when he woke up. Still he spent a life time traveling the globe in search of the inexplicable and the freaky. Established in 1967 . . .”
Gullible as I am, I did question the establishment date of 1967, but only because painted above the door was “1972.” The Peculiarium just seems like the kind of place that would have been in Portland since 1972.
The Peculiarium is a gallery space and a “museum” with exhibits focused on the “darker side of Pacific Northwest history,” including Bigfoot, aliens and Al Capone’s real vault.
And there’s a snack counter (ice cream and hot dogs and more) and gift shop (fake ketchup spills and zombie finger puppets) that I would swear were lifted from a collective childhood memory.
Maybe it was the aliens, maybe it was the genuine off-beat nature, or maybe there is a collective memory, but The Peculiarium reminded me of two other places – Little A’Le’Inn in Area 51 and the International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, New Mexico.
The vision for The Peculiarium is that it would become a space for artists and performers with a different vision. My most recent visit was for Palindromania. (A palindrome is a word or phrase that reads the same backward as forward.) Palindromania was hosted by comedian and the 2012 Will Shortz’ World Palindrome Champion Mark Saltveit.
Part of the evening was a poetry slam but for palindromes with five contestants competing for the best palindrome. Two of the competitors participated long distance through the marvels of technology from San Francisco and Australia. The evening also included Cymbalman, The Olivia Darlings, and comedian Dax Jordan, who commented that the evening might just have been the longest “Portlandia” skit yet. And true to the palindrome, they performed in reversible order.
I was going to end cleverly with a palindrome of my own, but they are much harder to write than I expected. Instead, check out The Palindromist below. (Dang, I was hoping to buy enough time to come up with a palindrome.)