The director of the Idaho Museum of Natural History says it won't matter whether Bigfoot is farce or fact when a new exhibit opens Friday.
Linda Deck, who is also curator of the Bigfoot exhibit, said the museum is taking a neutral position and simply displaying artifacts that involve the legendary creature that some say lives secretly in the Northwest.
"As human beings we make sense of our world in a variety of different ways," Deck told the Idaho State Journal. "We've got our myths, legends and beliefs and a very scientific way of knowing about our world, too, where we make hypotheses and test things and learn and change what we think."
But for Bigfoot believers, it could be a treasure trove.
Included in the exhibit is the Patterson-Gimlin film that shows a large creature striding away before turning and looking directly at the camera.
In the clip the creature steps on a branch. That branch is included in the exhibit. The branch was used to calculate the creature's height at 6-foot-6 (2 meters), said Dave Mead, exhibits director at the museum.
Also on display is a flannel jacket worn by the late Rene Dahinden, who spent 40 years in search of Bigfoot. He wore the jacket during a series of commercials for Kokanee beer.
Other objects in the exhibit include American Indian depictions of Bigfoot, a stick thought to have been twisted by one of the creatures, art and sculptures of Bigfoot, hair samples said to be from a Bigfoot, a cast of an impression said to be of a Bigfoot's elbow, and other evidence gathered by people involved in the search for Bigfoot.
Jeff Meldrum, an anatomy professor at Idaho State University and a local Bigfoot expert, said the exhibit will give visitors a new way to consider the subject.
"I think the (museum's) approach is a very thought-provoking one that recognizes there are a variety of dimensions to the experience of Bigfoot," Meldrum said. "The exhibit attempts to use the topic of Bigfoot as a springboard to analyze different ways of knowing. A variety of those things intersect with the subject matter at hand."
Mead said he expects the Bigfoot exhibit to rival an exhibit the museum had 15 years ago that featured automated dinosaurs.
"Bigfoot is along the same lines of attraction," said Mead. "He's mysterious and big."