The Museum of Moab has been a historical resource for the community since 1958. Now, the museum is hiring two new full-time staff members in order to further its reach and relevancy to Moab residents and visitors.
“I think the biggest change for us really is, we were pretty much entirely volunteer run, it was just in the past 15 or 20 years there was a paid part-time position,” said museum director John Foster, adding that his own full-time position is a very recent development.
“This is the big leap forward in that we will now have three full-time employees, in addition to the part-time people,” he said. The museum is bringing on Christy Williams-Dunton, formerly of KZMU, as the new development director, and Sarah Sidwell, formerly of Tagalong, as the new marketing director.
Foster said the museum has big plans for the future — though for now, he is working on a capital campaign to fund an eventual expansion. That’s where Dunton and Sidwell come in.
“It’s just one of these gems that could use some visionary ‘TLC,’” Dunton said of the museum, “The thing that I’m really moved by, is that it needs a special space to accurately represent the history, to educate and inform and inspire generations.”
Dunton said she views both the radio station and the museum as fostering similar themes in her work. “There will still be story telling and community gatherings, just in a new setting,” she explained.
The first step of the museum’s initiative is to engage with the local community. “We’re basically a resource for everybody, and we need to make sure we’re serving everybody’s needs, and getting feedback on that is key,” Foster said of the importance of working with the residents of Moab.
For much of his time with the museum, the entire organization was a one-person operation. Being able to share some of the workload with two new full-time staff members will afford him the opportunity to pursue community input. “I’ve been so busy I haven’t been able to be very high profile in the community,” Foster said, “I hope to be able to continue having those meetings with folks around town.”
It will take the museum some time to adjust to the new staff positions and begin to fundraise and establish a budget, Foster said. While remaining flexible and patient, he said he has big ideas for what the staff will be capable of.
“I guess the vision would be to ... spread the word ... that the museum is a way to make your visit more valuable,” Foster said.
Regarding how the museum can become an asset to tourism in Moab, he added, “My real dream with it, what I’m hoping to do, is have a collection or an exhibit that when people come here to visit, and go through the museum, it kind of ties everything together in terms of ancient history of the region, human history of the region, and how those are connected and influence each other to some degree, and how that ties into the landscape and the community currently ... instead of just seeing a pretty landscape, they’ll see how it came to be that way and how it influences how it is today.”
The museum will be open and serving cookies and hot drinks this Saturday, Dec. 2 from 5 to 7 p.m. during the Electric Light Parade. For more information call the museum at 435-259-7985.