top of page

We’re thrilled to unlock a special selection of objects and stories from the Porter House Museum, sharing the experience with visitors, near and far:  the travels, art, and collections of naturalist Bert Porter, a naturalist, and his wife Grace, against the backdrop of Victorian elegance that was their home and heritage. 

Join Ashley Beek, Consulting Director for the Porter House Museum, in a welcome to our first-ever virtual exhibit series.


While the museum is closed for house tours indefinitely, due to COVID-19, we encourage those wishing to visit Porter House Museum to enjoy the gardens and rock wall during daylight hours. 

Bert Porter's Rock Wall 

Learn more about the historic rock wall that surrounds the museum's outer perimeter. Larry Berland, a long-time science teacher, discusses the rocks and minerals Bert used in his unusual creation.


Printed brochures for the Self-Guided Rock Wall tour can be found on the museum sign on the front walk. An abbreviated PDF is available here which can be viewed online or printed:  Self Guided Rock Wall Tour PDF. 

The Pond and Gardens


Peter and Judy van der Linden talk about their favorite feature of Porter House Museum -- the pond and gardens! The couple work at the museum as garden volunteers. Judy is also a volunteer docent when the home is open for house tours. 


The gardens were developed over time and feature 'old-fashioned flowers, including iris, peonies and hydrangeas, as well as native plants, likely transplanted by Bert Porter, as well as non-natives such as the Dutchman’s pipe vine.

Bert Porter: Collector

Join David Faldet, Board of Directors for Porter House Museum, as he highlights stories about how Bert Porter collected specimens to sell to American collectors and museums.

Bert Porter as a Citizen Scientist


Elizabeth Lorentzen, a volunteer docent, talks about her connection to Bert Porter as a citizen scientist. 


She particularly enjoys the display of butterflies and has used butterflies from the collection to teach others how to spread and display butterflies collected by Bert and sent home, including a blue morpho butterfly collected by Bert on October 5, 1927 in French Guiana. 


We invite you to learn how Bert collected and sent home his collection over 100 years ago. He traveled extensively collecting butterfly specimens, but also visited the prairies and meadows of Iowa. 


Bert’s meticulous record keeping and interest in local butterfly species led to publishing a study listing 73 species of butterflies present in the Decorah area. Dr. Kirk Larsen, head of the Luther College Biology Department, further explored the butterfly population in subsequent studies in 1998 and 2015. 

To read Dr. Larsen’s study, visit

Bert the Butterfly Boy


Cam Forde, the current Porter House Museum Board President and volunteer docent, shares with us the history of how Bert became interested in butterflies! 


See how Bert used butterflies in art and decoration. 

Bert Porter - Mixed Media and Scrapbook Artist


Emily Mineart, former director and volunteer docent, discusses Bert Porter's hobbies featured in the museum. She shows us Bert Porter’s scrapbooks and his creative process while creating mixed media art.

Bert Porter: Adventurer


David Faldet, Board of Directors for Porter House Museum, gives us a glimpse of Bert Porter’s adventures.

Collaboration with Luther College Museum Studies


Dr. Destiny Crider, Museum Studies professor at Luther College, discusses the unique collaboration between the students at Luther College and the Porter House Museum. 

Grace Porter’s China Painting


Jane Kemp, a volunteer docent, gives us a glimpse into Grace Porter’s life. Her hobbies included her beautiful painted china on display in the museum. 

Introducing Esmerelda


Carol Hagen, volunteer docent, introduces us to the music parlor and Esmerelda, a 150-year old porcelain doll donated to the museum by a friend of the Porter family. An original toy of Grace porter, a wicker doll pram, was sold at a garage sale in the 1960’s and was donated back to the museum in 2017. 

bottom of page