The activities of Betina Museum of Wooden Shipbuilding are primarily based towards collecting, preserving and promoting of the heritage of wooden shipbuilding. Museum’s activities are focused on adequate protection and exhibition of items that represent both tangible and intangible cultural heritage related to wooden shipbuilding and everyday life which is impossible to imagine without a wooden ship.
The Museum was founded with the aim of becoming a promoting and encouraging institution opened to local inhabitants to develop better awareness and recognition of the values of their cultural heritage. It represents local customs and traditions, educates, organizes activities and workshops with the goal of attracting new generations closer to the tradition of wooden shipbuilding and to become informative to everyone interested in local cultural heritage.
Betina, central Dalmatia, on the island of Murter, famous for its wooden shipbuilding craft is the only remaining centre for small wooden shipbuilding and in recent years has become the synonym for traditional shipbuilding. As of the 1970’s, locals in Betina have 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.
Opening the museum only fuelled the local community and wooden boat owners to further contribute to the current cultural hive in Betina today. On the streets of Betina locals organise and participate in folklore demonstrations, sailing and rowing regattas, workshops, lectures, presentations, boat parades and many other cultural events with the aim to popularise traditional wooden boats, wooden shipbuilding and related cultural heritage. The museum has become a place where people spend their free time in creative workshops or presentations, but also a place where they can perform their own events.
The Museum’s mission is to be an effective place for presenting knowledge, active socialising, information dissemination, entertainment and a centre for the island’s identity.