Portland Museum



Captain Mary Miller

A Lady Steamboat Man: Portland’s Captain Mary Miller, introduces your museum tour with tales from her life as the first woman in America licensed to pilot a steamboat.

Portland; The Land, The River, The People

You will discover how the 19th century town of Portland developed below the Falls of the Ohio River. Portland: The Land, the River, and the People employs dioramas, a terrain model, historic figures, and automated lights and sounds to bring fascinating characters and events to life in a 23-minute experience.

Architecture Gallery

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Sports Gallery

Portland’s vibrant sports history comes to life in A Neighborhood of Teams, A Community of Champions, A Golden Boy From Portland, and Run to Win: Paul Hornung at Green Bay. Historic images and the extensive Paul Hornung Collection of sport memorabilia tell the story of a working class neighborhood where team sports shaped identity and community, while producing world class athletes like Paul Hornung.

Skene Gallery

Skene Gallery, named to honor the family that lived in Beech Grove for eight decades, features John James Audubon’s portraits of Portland magistrate Squire Jacob Earick and his wife Mary Ann Bell. Other important related artifacts are on display.

Comstock Gallery

Albert B. Comstock Gallery, named to honor a local banker and philanthropist, features changing exhibitions in the arts and humanities, intimate musical events, and panel discussions. Click here (link) to see the current offering or sign up for our mailing lists to receive updates (link).


Squire Earick House, located at 719 North 34th Street, is a designated American Treasure (U.S. Secretary of the Interior). The museum is restoring this heavy-timber federal period house. Open for tours on a limited basis by appointment only. Sign up for our mailing list to be updated on periodic tours and programs (link).

Captain MaryMiller pilots the Saline

Captain MaryMiller pilots the Saline

View of our Sports Gallery, featuring Paul Hornung and early sports in Portland

View of our Sports Gallery, featuring Paul Hornung and early sports in Portland

Portland Through the Eyes of Children, previously shown in the Comstock Gallery

Portland Through the Eyes of Children, previously shown in the Comstock Gallery




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Get smart about history – bring your class to the Portland Museum.

Portland Museum makes teaching history fun. As the story of the Falls of the Ohio unfolds through exhibits, films, and games, children get smart about where their town has been and where is it going. And, for an educator, what could be smarter than that?

Book a field trip for this year’s class to see the places, hear the people, and experience the events that make 19th century river towns like Portland so fascinating. We will work with teachers to tailor your trip to your class needs. Perfect for grades 3, 4, and 8 but all ages enjoy and learn.

  • Free preview for teachers interested in booking a field trip
  • Meet Captain Mary Miller, the talking steamboat captain
  • Experience “Portland: The Land, the river, and the people”
  • Play “Shoot the Falls,” “Heave the Lead” & other interactive games
  • Watch documentaries and animated films
  • Get materials for your classroom

Museum Tour

You will meet Portland’s Captain Mary Miller, America’s first female steamboat pilot, who introduces the museum tour with tales of life spent of the Ohio River.

Then, an automated light-and-sound tour, “Portland: The Land, the River and the People,” transports students back in time to explore our river history through dioramas of historic scenes and life-sized characters like John James Audubon.

You may select a video for class viewing from children’s animated films, historic newsreels of the 1937 Flood, or a documentary about John James and Lucy Audubon arriving in Louisville on a flatboat and the life they built in Kentucky.

There’s more! Students can learn how participating in sport helped New Americans join the community and enjoy the sports career of football great, Paul Hornung, Portland’s Golden Boy and Heisman trophy winner.

Of course, the latest temporary exhibit in the Comstock Gallery and the Audubon Room are also available for students and teachers to enjoy.

Outdoors, students will enjoy a lovely lawn and garden as well as our “River’s Edge Play Yard” featuring a steamboat wheelhouse, knot boards, and maritime artifacts.

Media Productions

Teachers choose from the list below to meet their curriculum needs:

Along the Ohio: This charming animated film by and for elementary children tells the story of boats used on the Ohio, from canoes to the Belle of Louisville.

Jim Porter: Another film animated by children, this production tells the story of the Kentucky Giant who grew up in Portland.

Iron Horse Fever Comes to Portland: Also animated by children, the film tells of the coming of railroads to Louisville and Portland and the uproar they caused.

1937 Great Ohio River Flood News Reels: Students can learn about this tremendous event and also how differently the news is reported today than in a time before television when people went to movie theaters to see the news.

John James Audubon: Witness at the Falls: A 23-minute production about John James and Lucy Audubon’s life in Kentucky. The young couple arrived in Louisville by flatboat and later moved to Henderson. Shippingport remained a refuge for the family in times of trouble. Suitable for older students and adults.

Dream of Power: This documentary tells the story of the great Tarascon Mill on Shippingport and how the Portland Museum recreated it in a model.

Educational Games

Grades 1-3: In “Shoot the Falls” children roll dice to race boats along a room-size floor map and learn about the perils of navigating the Falls of the Ohio before the canal.

Grades 4-5: In “Heave the Lead,” a steamboat game, students learn about “Mark Twain” a call the leadsman used to tell his steamboat captain the river’s depth. Children toss weighted ropes at targets to simulate the job of a leadsman.

Grades 3-5: “Hoops and Graces.” The museum has sets of “Hoops and Graces” for outdoor fun, weather permitting. Nineteenth century children rolled hoops in races and tossed and caught wooden rings called graces.


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The collections of the Portland Museum play an important role in understanding American life in a particular yet representative place, detailing the history and material culture of Portland, once an independent town at the Falls of the Ohio and now an urban neighborhood of Louisville.

The growing collection includes artifacts, costumes, paintings, drawings, photographs, documents, oral histories and vernacular objects. The collection is informed by a body of research.


The collection is not currently available to the public for research but the staff will process requests for information on an as-time-allows basis. There is a small fee for this service. Click here to fill out a Research Request form.