Betina, in central Dalmatia on the island of Murter, is famous for its wooden shipbuilding craft and is also the only remaining centre for small wooden shipbuilding and in recent years has become a synonym for traditional shipbuilding.
Since the 1970’s, locals in Betina have had strong cultural motives to create an institution which would stand to inherit their rich shipbuilding history and absorb local knowledge of building wooden boats, especially the Gajeta. This realisation of their aspirations was finally achieved when the Museum of Wooden Shipbuilding opened. It began in 2011 with the forming of a civil association named Betina Gajeta 1740, and plans were immediately put in place to create the present day museum. The association was founded in order to preserve traditional and unique building knowledge of the Gajeta, or Betina Gajeta. The council implemented the community’s dream to represent and communicate their art of shipbuilding, and innovate systems to include all related heritage. The Association brought their proposals to local authorities represented by the Municipality of Tisno. The Municipal Council Tisno agreed to establish a Museum, property was purchased, and a site established in which varying experts worked on permanent displays of Gajetas and the different processes involved in shipbuilding. The museum’s working group, together with Betina Gajeta 1740, collected items for the museum, recorded storytellings from shipbuilders, sailors, fishermen, farmers, ethnographers, historians and all local people willing to help. All items on display have been donated by local people, museum texts were derived from storytellings, and in all videos actors were local people who gladly participated in activities that preceded the opening of the museum.
The concept of the Betina Museum of Wooden Shipbuilding, opened in 2015, consisted of two phases: the first phase of the project realization was related to the design of the museum building and the opening of the permanent exhibition. The second phase was the realization of the external part of the exhibition - the open-air museum. The indoors museum exhibition presents the principles of building small wooden boats and places them in the historical context over time, while the outdoors exhibition displays real-life functional boats in situ.
Museum Multimedia Room
The core of today's open-air museum was established by the boat owners themselves. After they renovated and fitted with sails their wooden boats and began competing in lateen sail regattas in the early 2000s, they themselves started to moor their boats in the northeast part of the harbor. Over the years, by unregistered rule, the boats in that part of the harbor would be moored according to their brand.
On 7 March 2019, the Betina Museum of Wooden Shipbuilding was granted a concession to part of the local harbor. On the basis of the Agreement signed with the Šibenik-Knin County, the Museum has been granted a concession on maritime goods for the purpose of using the berths for the presentation of traditional wooden boats as museum exhibits.
Boats have their place in the harbor according to their brand, originality of construction, conservation, sails fitting and adherence to traditional materials and equipment. There are 43 boats berthed at the open-air museum. In the reserved area granted to the Museum, berthing rights are awarded to boats, not the owners. The open air exhibition was opened in June 2019.
Entrance to the museum - scale model of bracera
A direct result of efforts is the increase in the number of newly built wooden boats along Šibenik region coastlines, and an increase in the number of repairs and reconstructions, all adding to the restoration and an increase in wooden boats keeping the culture alive and prevalent. Boat owners repair their boats regularly and a sense of pride can be seen in their ownership. Their boats can be seen in new folklore manifestations organised for tourists, and the making of wooden boats represent of the island’s cultural heritage and local identity. Owning a traditional wooden boat become popular. Many examples of new boat orders are by clients of maritime heritage, wooden boat lovers, and longtime guests to the island of Murter. This encouraging trend has all local shipyards full with new boat orders and repairs years in advance. The Ministry of culture of the Republic of Croatia protects the knowledge of building a wooden boat in the traditional way, and this knowledge is still spread among our local shipbuilders. They are knowledge holders and active participants in the museum’s good work, but the museum serves them too in preserving an art which was also preserved by their ancestors for centuries; they too, in innovative modern ways, are passing their knowledge on. Betina Museum of Wooden Shipbuilding perfectly illustrates the significance and importance of maritime and shipbuilding heritage in the development of the identity of the island Murter.
The Best in Heritage
The world's only survey of award-winning museum, heritage and conservation projects.
European Heritage Association
Trg kralja Petra Krešimira IV, 7
© Copyright 2002-2017 The Best In Heritage. All rights reserved.
Developed by Edulogic