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Wanted: The Big Stories (and small ones too) Moab Museum’s journey toward “telling it all” begins
by The Moab Museum Team

These records, although incomplete, present enough information to be able to place them in the context of the exhibit experience. More information is always welcomed!

Historic Photo:
Title: “Traveling still during prohibition” Date: 1920
Collection: Howard Balsley
Geographical Information: Grand County Note: “The many springs and hidden canyons of the Moab area made the art of illegal moonshine a relatively easy proposition. This still on wheels was particularly fast on the getaway.”

Collection Object:
Name: “Wheelbarrow wheel” (There is an uncertainty that the record is correct.) Date: 1900
Source: Bill Loring and Gordon Fowler Geographical Information: Miner’s Basin, La Sal Mountains
Note: “Wooden wheelbarrow wheel, made from a single piece of wood; about 1900; metal rim, 13” diameter; looks like a giant top.”

Have you ever visited a museum with a plethora of “stuff” only to leave with more questions than when you walked in? As it is for many museums, a donated object doesn’t always arrive with a story that supports its historical significance. Facts, such as the date it was made or used, name of an owner, where it was found, how it was used, anecdotes about the object—all of these help form the basis for its story in relation to other items in a collection. Moab Museum is striving to present central themes with an emphasis on stories rather than stuff, thus, living up to its slogan, “Small Museum. Big Stories.” Our aim is to share stories that leave Museum visitors with a lasting impression of something about our home. So, how do we meet this challenge when historical records are lacking? We can fill in the blanks by making the entire Museum collection available to the public on its website and with help from our community. A modern-day, old West “WANTED” campaign will present community members with the opportunity to share their knowledge. The rewards will be a far more complete showing of Moab’s colorful history.

The Museum recently invested in comprehensive collections management software that will make a big difference in the way the archive is managed. Accessing information about images, ephemera, and objects more quickly, and sharing it with the public and other institutions are some of the goals. Needless to say, the digital transfer of object information to the new system is a big challenge: how to flesh out object records when the Museum’s original database records are so scarce; and the time it will take to catalog every single item. With deep investigation and local knowledge, compelling stories can be woven together with existing and new evidence and careful scrutiny. Although the Museum has been closed, our current exhibit experience echoes this model right now and can be seen in part on the ever-growing Museum website. The pandemic has forced us to adapt to new ways to present our programs which has signaled the need to move further into the digital realm, but also, the help of locals and their knowledge is wanted so that we can present a more complete story.

Wanted: The Moab community’s collective wisdom to help flesh out the stories of objects and images in the collection. Once the online database of the Museum’s archives is launched, you can help. Anyone who is interested can view images and information about each object in the Museum’s care. If you see an object in the Museum’s collection and you have information about it, we encourage you to notify Museum staff and help to elaborate on the object’s record and ultimately, the historical record on the place we call home.

Stay tuned for updates as we work to photograph items and scan photos as our first steps in organizing our initial digital upload. The rewards will be a more complete Moab history.

Contact Tara Beresh at Moab Museum: Be sure to visit our website as well:




Movie & Western Memorabilia Museum at Red Cliffs Lodge

Indiana Jones PosterRed Cliffs Lodge, on the banks of the mighty Colorado River, is home to the Moab Museum of Film & Western Heritage. The lodge is built on the old George White Ranch, a key location for nine of the big westerns including Rio Grande, Cheyenne Autumn, Ten Who Dared, The Commancheros, and Rio Conchos.

The late George White was founder of the Moab to Monument Valley Film Commission, the longest ongoing film commission in the world.

In the museum one can learn more about film locations, how the sets are built, and how the filming process is managed on nature’s own sound stage. On display in the museum are production photographs, movie posters, autographed scripts, props from the many pictures filmed in the area, and displays about the western ranching heritage. For information, call Red Cliffs Lodge at 435-259-2002.

Rio Grande Through the magnificent landscapes of southeastern Utah, writers have been inspired and stories born here. Zane Grey, the famous western novelist, traveled through the area in 1912. His visit inspired him to write his book Riders of the Purple Sage. The book was made into a movie starring Ed Harris and Amy Madigan, and filmed on locations around Moab.

A partial list of stars that have made movies in Moab
John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Henry Fonda, Lee Marvin,
Rock Hudson, Jimmy Stewart, Richard Boone, Anthony Quinn,
Mickey Rooney, Shirley Temple, Kris Kristofferson, Billy Crystal,
Robert Duvall, Gene Hackman, Bill Murray, Jack Palance, Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, Ted Danson, Tom Cruise, and many more.
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