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Unforgettable face of the mermaid at the International Paranormal Museum.
Unforgettable face of the mermaid at the International Paranormal Museum.

International Paranormal Museum

Field review by the editors.

Somerset, Kentucky

"Kentucky is a very weird place," said Kyle Kadel, owner and curator of the International Paranormal Museum. His assessment doesn't even include in-state oddities such as Cocaine Bear and Noah's Ark. Instead, Kyle's focus is on ghosts, cults, mysterious anomalies, UFOs, and creatures such as the Pope Lick Goatman and Hopkinsville Goblins.

Roswell alien and hovering space sedan.
Roswell alien and hovering space sedan.

The museum positions itself as global, although its exhibits are currently confined mostly to the USA due to finances and limited space (It occupies part of the basement of the former Somerset, Kentucky library). Kyle sees the attraction as eventually forming an international "paratourism" trifecta with the more established International UFO Museum in New Mexico and the International Cryptozoology Museum in Maine. If you see one, you have to see them all.

Bigfoot prints from ten different states fill display cases.
Bigfoot prints from ten different states fill display cases.

Somerset may not have the name recognition of Roswell, but Kyle said that it has a significant degree of high strangeness. "Pulaski County is right on the 37th parallel, the most bizarre parallel, the 'Alien Highway,'" he told us (We already knew that the 45th parallel was weird). Also, "gravity is heavier here than anywhere else in the United States," he said, and, "We are on the biggest vein of quartz anywhere in America. Our theory is that's part of the reason why people here experience so many paranormal things."

Gladys the mannequin has been reported to wink at visitors.
Gladys the mannequin has been reported to wink at visitors.

We asked for examples. Kyle cited "a house on Main Street where beams of light from heaven would come down and predict the future," and an incident in a neighboring town where a 150-foot-wide translucent undulating stingray flew over someone's house. "We're working on a model of the stingray," he said.

To Kyle's credit he has taken the paranormal, an often evidence-free discipline, and turned it into an entertaining museum. The cozy basement seems like an appropriate space for such a bizarro subject, and Kyle -- with a good eye for display and lighting -- has packed it with exhibits ranging from a two-headed duck, to a voodoo doll filled with human teeth, to Charles Manson's toenail clippings. There are showcases for well-known regional horrors such as Mothman and the Flatwoods Monster, and eerie miniatures that include a cattle mutilation scene and Bozo the Ice Man. One display features a forgotten incident from 1976 that involved three local middle-aged women. "They were talking about new sewing patterns for pants," said Kyle, "and a UFO abducted them." Kyle described them as "normal and Christian-y," but after the abduction "they all started smoking and cursing all the time."

Pinhead-size Moon rock is easily missed among other museum wonders.
Pinhead-size Moon rock is easily missed among other museum wonders.

To appeal to the widest possible audience, Kyle has even set aside a room at the back of the attraction for an old-fashioned wax museum Chamber of Horrors, assembled by a friend, Jonathan Brinson. "He gets access to all kinds of old junk," said Kyle, describing the weird displays. "It's Halloween 24/7 back there."

Flatwoods Monster model has pearls for eyes.
Flatwoods Monster model has pearls for eyes.

In the museum room devoted to haunted items, Kyle pointed with respect to Gladys, a showroom dummy given to him by a local store. According to her accompanying sign, "employees had become afraid of her." Kyle said that Gladys had been locked in an attic, felt ignored, and kept reappearing in different parts of the building. "One night a customer turned on the light in the employee restroom," said Kyle, "and Gladys was standing there, staring at her." She has not moved on her own, much, since her arrival at the museum, said Kyle, although nearly two dozen visitors have insisted that she has winked at them.

There are casts of Bigfoot footprints from ten different states in the monster and UFO room, and we asked Kyle why a jar of Nutella was displayed behind one smallish blob. "That's called the ''tellacast,'" said Kyle, referring to the blob. The jar of Nutella, he said, had been used to bait a Bigfoot trap in Pulaski County, when "something came along and ripped the trap apart," scooping out a big handful of the hazelnut-chocolate gunk. The gunk was subsequently frozen, and a cast was made of it and placed on display in the museum. "At least three distinct fingers are visible," said Kyle. "They're at least twice as big as mine!"

Two-headed duck is in the things-in-jars showcase.
Two-headed duck is in the things-in-jars showcase.

The emphasis on Bigfoot's appendages, said Kyle, contradicts many other monster, space alien, and ghost sightings, where most of what is remembered are the eyes. Kyle said that this fits with a theory, advanced by some experts, that these creatures may not even have feet; that they're all manifestations of some force that can only clearly project eyes into our universe, and that the rest -- angel, demon, giant floating stingray -- depends entirely on the person who witnesses it. "The longer I do this the more I see that I don't know what I'm looking for," said Kyle, referring to the entire field of paranormal phenomena, not just its feet. "Now I have no idea."

Despite this conundrum, Kyle cares about the subject and clearly wants to make his museum into the best possible attraction that he can. He is motivated, he said, not only by his own interest in the paranormal, but by the public's. "It's just amazing to me that people care about something so strange," he said. "It's hard to keep up. There're so many monsters."

Also see: International UFO Museum | International Cryptozoology Museum

International Paranormal Museum

International Paranormal Museum and Research Center

107 N. Main St., Somerset, KY
International Paranormal Museum and Research Center. Entrance is the basement doorway of the Carnegie Community Arts Center. Downtown, on the east side of KY-1247/N. Main St., just north of the public fountain at the intersection of KY-80/Mt. Vernon St.
Tu-Sa 11-5 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Adults $4.
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Natural ArchNatural Arch, Parkers Lake, KY - 18 mi.
Tiny Post OfficeTiny Post Office, Sawyer, KY - 19 mi.
Moonbow at Cumberland FallsMoonbow at Cumberland Falls, Williamsburg, KY - 23 mi.
In the region:
Liberty Bell Replica, Liberty, KY - 24 mi.

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