ABOUT THE MUSEUM
Founded in 2005, the Rufus Porter Museum of Art and Ingenuity, located in Bridgton, Maine, features the history of a remarkable 19th century New Englander, Rufus Porter (1792-1884). Porter is well-known in the folk art community for his landscape murals and miniature portraits, however, Porter was more than just a painter. He was the founding publisher and editor of the magazine Scientific American as well as inventor, writer, teacher and more. We are dedicated to capturing and sharing with the public Porter’s uniquely American blend of creativity, ingenuity, practicality, and energy by exploring the world and era in which he lived and worked.
Artist, musician, teacher, inventor and founder of Scientific American magazine, Rufus Porter was ahead of his time in a number of ways. Porter began his artistic life as a decorative painter and painter of portraits. Later he painted the murals that made him famous. He painted what he knew — landscapes depicting the farms around Bridgton, Maine, his childhood home, and seaport scenes of Portland, Maine, where he lived and studied as a young man.
Porter patented inventions that were useful in the home, on the farm, and in the factory. The design for his revolving rifle cylinder, sold to Samuel Colt, helped to revolutionize the munitions industry. He designed and promoted airships that could fly people across the continent, although they were never built in his lifetime.
He founded Scientific American magazine in 1845, to encourage innovation in American arts and sciences. This pioneering attempt at progressive journalism often included clarion calls to clear the way for a bright and promising future. Porter set a tone of excitement for an approaching age where thought and action must lead the way out of a darker and restrictive past.
OUR MUSEUM CAMPUS
Open seasonally and by appointment, our campus is home to two historic Bridgton homes. The museum's main exhibits, located in the John and Marie Webb House, features the story of Rufus Porter and includes a collection of miniature portraits in The Charles and Judith G.T. Volger Portrait Room; models of some of his inventions, books and pamphlets written by Porter, and early editions of Scientific American in The Kendal C. and Anna Charitable Foundation Invention Room; special exhibit space; and our highly acclaimed museum store. The Webb House is on the National Register of Historic Places and received an Honor Award from Maine Preservation in 2019.
The Nathan Church House is home to a collection of murals from various New England homes, an in situ mural room, and special exhibit space. The Church House is the original headquarters of the museum and one of Bridgton's oldest surviving buildings. It has been moved three times, with its final move in 2016 to its current location on Church Street behind the Webb House.