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Museum honors Cliff Oviatt with service award

Randy Jensen presents Clifford Oviatt with a service award from the Museum of the San Rafael.


The annual Night at the Museum celebration highlighted the new displays and exhibits at the Museum of the San Rafael in Castle Dale as well as spotlighting a museum hero.

Clifford Oviatt was awarded a special recognition for his volunteer work at the museum. Museum director Margaret Keller welcomed the large crowd to the event. Board members were introduced including Dixon Peacock, Janet Petersen, Dawnette Tuttle, Randy Jensen and Clifford Oviatt.

Keller recognized the board members for all their volunteer work for the museum. The volunteers are the heart and soul of the museum. Keller said this year they chose to honor Clifford Oviatt. She described Clifford as being creative, clever and he can do anything he's asked to do. He was instrumental in making the display for the Clyde's Cavern artifacts. "He is very loving. He looks rough and tough, but he's a Teddy bear. He is always learning and always teaching. He has taught many students to paint. He is interesting, fearless, favorable and everyone loves him and appreciates what he does."

Jensen said he is very proud to present the dedicated service award to Clifford this year. "He is always available to set up chairs for events and to help with new exhibits. Clifford tries to anticipate what's needed and then he's there to see things are done properly. He's always prepared for possible problems. Cliff is selfless, he always puts others first."

Jensen described Clifford Oviatt's artistic abilities as endless, his artistic talent is unmatched. "Cliff has always been thoughtful and artistic. When he was 9 years old he was given an art set. A buffalo he drew while in school is still on display. During the '70s, Cliff taught art at Emery High. Cliff has designed displays, crafted logos for companies and painted many pictures. He painted the sign outside the museum. He painted the Rochester Panel. His murals are backdrops for displays in the museum. The most recent one was in the paleo room. The beautiful murals are familiar landscapes from Emery County. It's been an honor to work with Cliff," said Jensen.

Jensen presented a plaque to Clifford Oviatt and the audience jumped to their feet to honor Oviatt with a standing ovation.

Oviatt told the audience, "Thanks to everyone for being here. What you need to understand is this is a labor of love. I don't consider any of it work. I have enjoyed what I'm doing. We have this beautiful museum here for tourists to visit. Everything about Emery County I hold dear. We need to show responsibility in all we do and how we care for the land."

Oviatt thanked all those volunteers who helped him work on the mural in the paleo room. He thanked his wife Verlynn for her help and her support as he has worked on the museum projects throughout the years. Oviatt described many of the projects he's worked on over the years including one where everyone of the family who came to visit the Oviatts at home worked with a Dremel tool and modeling paste on a mural. When it was finished it almost didn't fit out the door when it was moved from home to the museum. Oviatt enjoys making his murals three dimensional and the rock in the sheep panel is really foam that's painted to look like rock.

Oviatt said it's exciting how new dinosaurs are being found all the time. He enjoyed working on the dinosaur for the new display. He tried to make the dinosaur as realistic as possible. It's a ornithomimis and it means bird. The giant "bird" is 6.5 feet tall and is shown in the display with an egg which he stole from a nest and he is running away with it, a common practice among dinosaurs as eggs were taken for food. Oviatt said he tried to paint dinosaurs in that mural that come from the late cretaceous period.

"I enjoy the work here, I enjoy the students. It's more fun than work," said Oviatt.

Other new displays at the museum include the Mikelson pot which was found in Ferron Canyon. A rock art photo exhibit was recently part of a traveling exhibit housed in the round room at the museum for a month. The photos included many pictures of rock art from Emery County.

A hands on make and take craft item was available for the children to construct on this evening and museum board members helped them. Refreshments were served to round out the evening of activities.

The museum board invited everyone in Emery County to rediscover the Museum of the San Rafael and take time to visit the new displays at the museum. Museum hours are Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Closed Sundays and holidays.

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