Rufus Porter Museum director leaving

Martha Cummings

Rufus Porter Museum director, Martha Cummings, is leaving to pursue professional interests in southern New Hampshire.

She and her husband, Al, look forward to living closer to family and the Seacoast area. They expect to make the transition by June.

Cummings began her association with the Bridgton museum in 2014 as a docent and member of the Facilities Committee. She was soon invited to be on the board of trustees, and was made director in February of 2016.

Cummings’ background includes a master of arts degree in historic preservation from Plymouth State University in Plymouth, N.H., and professional experience as an assistant manager of historic houses at Longyear Museum in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

During her time as director, the Rufus Porter Museum consolidated its properties onto its current, highly visible Main Street location, moving the red Nathan Church House from North High Street. She also coordinated rehabilitation of the Webb House on the new downtown campus.

Cummings led a revision of the museum’s strategic plan, designed the permanent exhibit in the Webb House, stabilized the museum’s finances, and upgraded the database and other technology. Membership, giving and volunteerism have all increased over the time she has been the director.

“There is a sense of joy and purpose at the museum,” says Cummings of her efforts to encourage members and volunteers to participate on all levels. “It’s an exciting place these days. The museum is on the cusp of something wonderful.”

“That’s because Rufus Porter is such an inspiration,” she adds. “He was so many things: writer, publisher, artist, engineer, inventor, chemist, musician. His example gives everyone license to try their hand at whatever interests them. Porter was a Renaissance man who showed us that we can be diverse and multifaceted.”

Museum co-president Margaret Lindsey Sanborn says, “I speak for the entire museum board in thanking Martha wholeheartedly for her remarkable achievements. We are sorry to see her leave, but wish her all the best as she seeks her next professional challenge in the museum world.”

The museum board of trustees welcomes resumes from applicants for the director’s position. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until a qualified candidate is hired. For more information, visit the website at rufusportermuseum/employment.org

The museum’s summer programming includes Camp Invention, a week-long children’s workshop in partnership with the Stevens Brook Elementary School and The National Inventors Hall of Fame. Camp Invention in Bridgton will be one of only four such programs in the state of Maine, but one of over 1,500 programs across the country. Sponsored by The National Inventors Hall of Fame, the camp (to be held July 9-13) is open to all children, kindergarten through sixth grade, and fosters inventiveness, creative thinking and problem solving. Some scholarships are available.

This summer’s exhibition in the Church House will focus on the 250th anniversary of Bridgton’s settlement in 1768. Entitled “250 Years: Bridgton in Art and Artifacts,” and co-curated by Eric Johnson of Bridgton, the exhibit will feature rarely seen works of art and crafts produced by, or owned by, Bridgton area residents since the 18th century.

The Rufus Porter Museum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit institution that celebrates the life and times of a true Yankee genius. Through exhibitions, lectures, children’s programs, and special events, the museum is a place where local residents and seasonal visitors can learn about the many achievements of a remarkable man, who once called Bridgton home.

The museum is located at 121 Main Street in Bridgton and is open to the public from June to October. For more information, visit their website at rufusportermuseum.org

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