Quirky Collection : Exhibit: The paranormal is the norm in the unusual ‘UFO, Bigfoot and Loch Ness Monster Museum’ in a Venice home.
If you look carefully at the white clapboard house on the residential Venice street corner you can see the face of Jon Erik Beckjord.
There it is, at the front of the place, faintly visible through the screen door with the sign announcing “UFO, Bigfoot and Loch Ness Monster Museum” taped to it.
Beckjord is waiting inside for visitors coming to view the unusual collection of photographs that he says depicts faces of space aliens, Bigfoot creatures and celebrities in unexpected places.
Look closely, Beckjord advises those who file inside the scruffy house and into the front bedroom where dozens of photographs are displayed beneath clamp-on floodlights.
Some of the pictures are so grainy and indistinct that arrows are necessary to point out the images. But the faces are there if you look carefully, Beckjord says, pointing around the room.
Over here is a stern-looking space alien cavorting in a British forest. Over there are NASA photos of Martian rock formations that resemble Sen. Edward Kennedy, Saddam Hussein and Tammy Faye Bakker. Across the room is O.J. Simpson outlined on the trunk of a palm tree in Nicole Brown Simpson’s front yard. Nearby is the profile of Elvis Presley carved on a Southern California mountain ridge.
“You won’t be impressed by the outside of this place,” said Beckjord, a former urban planner and low-budget movie crew member who now works as a lighting supply salesman to finance his unusual collection of the paranormal. “The J. Paul Getty Museum we’re not.”
Face it, he’s right.
When Beckjord issued an invitation the other day for Lisa Marie Presley-Jackson and fans of her late father to the unveiling of the photo of the mountaintop Elvis, nobody showed up.
His lighting company employer doesn’t want to be identified with the UFO museum, he acknowledges. And strangers sometimes roll their eyes when he hands them his business card with the fine print on it listing his interests as including “Moon alien artifacts” and “crop circles.”
“People with a limited vision think I’m crazy to do this,” said the divorced 46-year-old. “But the ultimate question has to be what the heck are we doing on this planet, how did we get here and where are we going?”
Beckjord’s museum opened 1 1/2 months ago at 1056 Van Buren Ave. It’s its second location. And its second identity.
For a time in the early 1990s his exhibits--then known as the “Crypto-Zoology Museum"--were displayed in the corner of a restaurant and bar near Malibu’s Trancas Beach. When the bar went out of business, Beckjord put the collection in a storage container behind the Las Flores Canyon home where he was living. It was destroyed when the 1993 Malibu brush fire burned the property.
The negatives to the photographs were saved, however, and his collection of blurry blowups has slowly been restored at a darkroom rental place in Santa Monica. The catchier new name is designed to draw more people to the museum, he said.
Although he is a firm believer now, the Minnesota-born Beckjord admits his own skepticism when he started his paranormal research 20 years ago. At the time, his plan was to prove that Bigfoot sightings in the Pacific Northwest were phony.
He was an urban planning consultant in the San Francisco area when he saw a newspaper story about alleged sightings of the huge, hairy figure on an Indian reservation. “I thought I’d catch somebody doing a hoax,” he said. “But on my third day there I saw a Bigfoot myself cross the road about 200 feet ahead of me.”
Beckjord was hooked. He returned later with a movie camera but couldn’t find the creature. He soon found himself investigating such other unexplained phenomena as UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster and the alleged wheat field hieroglyphs of Great Britain.
He said he has filmed three “blobs-of-light” UFOs (one above a U.S. military base 150 miles northwest of Las Vegas and two others over Lancaster) and witnessed two others (an unexplained light over Malibu and a helicopter “pushing a 200-foot grid of beams with lights on them” over the Sepulveda Pass).
Currently, Beckjord said, he is trying to rally public support for the declassifying of government information regarding the existence of UFOs or extraterrestrial intelligence and dreaming of his next trip to Loch Ness.
First, though, he’s looking for free storefront space in Venice or Santa Monica for the museum--which is currently open without charge Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons and so far has drawn about 400 visitors.
“We’re not a low-budget operation, we’re no-budget,” he said.
Free rental space on the Westside? Now, that’s an unknown phenomenon.