Founded in 2005, The Rufus Porter Museum 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.
Open seasonally from early June-October, the museum's main exhibit located in the Webb house features the story of Rufus Porter that includes a collection of miniature portraits, models of some of his inventions, books and pamphlets written by Porter, and early editions of Scientific American. On exhibit in the historic Nathan Church house are landscape murals in situ in Porter's School of Landscape mural style, and an extricated wall section painted by artist John Avery, a contemporary of Porter's. Included in the museum's collection though not yet on display are walls painted by Jonathan D. Poor (Porter's nephew). Temporary exhibit panels depicting the Poor murals can be viewed in the interim.
About the Museum
Mission: The Rufus Porter Museum celebrates the life and times of a remarkably creative American genius who worked throughout Maine, New England, and beyond.
Support for the museum comes from individual donations, memberships, museum admission, gift shop sales, program fees, and fundraising events. Funding for capital projects, educational programs, and exhibits come through foundation support from:
The Kendal C. and Anna Ham Charitable Foundation
The Davis Family Foundation
The Tom E. Dailey Foundation
The Clarence E. Mulford Trust
Community Development Block Grants (Bridgton)
The Margaret E. Burnham Charitable Trust
The Daughters of the American Revolution
Belvedere Historic Preservation Grant Program
Rufus Porter Museum, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) private non-profit. Membership fees and donations are tax deductible.
The museum celebrates a fascinating American artist/inventor whose life continues to serve as an inspiration for creators and innovators around the world. Learn more about this creative genius.
Rufus Porter was the inventor of many useful (and not so useful) items including a very early flying machine. Like other innovators, he received his share of ridicule and accolades. Learn more about his Inventions + Patents here.
In 2018, Rufus Porter was nominated for the National Inventor's Hall of Fame. The patent he was nominated for is a rotary pump that served as a precursor to the rotary pump used in open heart surgery many years later. We will keep you updated about the nomination!
Webb House & Church House
The Rufus Porter Museum occupies two historic buildings at our downtown campus.
The Webb House houses the permanent exhibit dedicated to helping our visitors get to know the fascinating artist/inventor/publisher Rufus Porter. Our museum gift shop is also located in the building, as are our administrative offices. The Church House is the original headquarters of the museum. It was recently moved to the same lot as the Webb House.
The Church House is one of Bridgton's oldest surviving buildings, and was the home of Bridgton's first settled minister, Nathan Church. In the parlor of the Church House are Rufus Porter School murals. The Church House serves as a temporary exhibit space, and an opportunity to see wall murals up close. The museum currently owns two additional sets of murals that are in storage pending restoration and the completion of a building to house them.
From Southern Maine, New Hampshire or Massachusetts
Follow Interstate 95 up the Maine Turnpike to Exit 48. Turn right when leaving the tollbooth and go straight through 2 lights. At the third light, turn left onto Route 302. From there, follow directions below.
From Portland, ME
Follow Route 302 west to Bridgton, approximately 32 miles. At the second light in Bridgton, turn left continuing to follow Route 302 through town. The Museum is centrally located, next to the Bridgton Public Library, on the corner of Church and Main Streets on your left.
From Central and Northern New Hampshire
Follow Route 302 east into Fryeburg, Maine. The museum is located approximately 16 miles east of Fryeburg, in the center of Bridgton. It is next to the Bridgton Public Library, on the corner of Church and Main Streets, which will be on your right.
Bridgton is a walkable town, with ample public parking lots and street parking. The Museum has one dedicated handicap space located in the driveway for the Webb House on the left of the building.