Rufus Porter Museum progress report

PROPOSED MUSEUM SITE — The current Webb-Gallinari House is pictured to the lower right and the Rufus Porter Museum Church House (to be moved from North High Street) is on the left. A new proposed barn is to the back. It will house Rufus Porter and Jonathan Poor murals, as well as reception and classroom space.

The Rufus Porter Museum’s plan to move its operations this winter into the Webb-Gallinari historic home on Main Street, purchased in January, is moving along with the awarding of several important grants.

The Maine Arts Commission Cultural Facilities Accessibility program awarded the museum $3,700 to prepare the first floor front rooms for use as exhibit galleries. Work on these rooms will soon be underway, and volunteers to assist in the other rooms are being sought.

A federal Community Development Block Grant for $24,000 was awarded and approved by Bridgton voters to be used to improve the outside appearance of the property. Bids for this phase are currently being proposed.

The Davis Family Foundation granted the museum funding to cover the salary for two summer graduate student interns, and to support a series of public lectures and art classes for children.

The Museum Board of Directors thank the community and these Foundations for their support of a multi-tiered plan to pull three aspects of a growing art collection into one facility.

Current plans call for the restoration of the Webb-Gallinari home into gallery, office, research and gift shop space; moving the current museum building located on North High Street to the Main Street property; and the final stage will be to construct a new barn/gallery attached to both houses that would contain the two sets of murals by Rufus Porter and his nephew, Jonathan Poor.

This ambitious plan will give Bridgton an art museum of the highest quality once completed, but will require substantial public support and donations.

Letters addressed to Bridgton residents were recently sent with the hope of gaining of community support during the coming year. A number of fundraising events are also planned.

The future looks bright for this fledging institution. The museum’s original site property was donated last spring, and a challenge grant for an endowment was received with a plan to match it with grants in the coming two years.

Community support for the planned expansion will aid in the process of grant applications.

The Museum Board of Directors, currently headed by Nelle Ely as president, has expanded from six to 11 members this past year, and continues to seek qualified members who wish to build this museum into a national destination for the study of New England wall murals, and a local source of pride in the heritage and culture of this beautiful area.

Stay tuned for more news as these exciting projects develop.

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