The Municipal museum of Jelsa is a young museum institution, founded in 2010. However, the process of collecting and organising objects into collections began much earlier. Among the first few established collections were the Viticultural and the Fishermen’s collection which reflect the importance of these two main economic practices of the past. The professional staff of the former Center for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Hvar together with the local population were responsible for collecting this impressive museum fund. The Center which firstly acted as the Historical archive was founded in 1950. thanks to the effort of dr. Niko Duboković Nadalini. Its purpose was to organise the cultural activities. Gathering objects and documenting skills and knowledge that brought self-sufficiency and prosperity to the islanders for thousands of years were in line with dr. Niko Duboković’s vision to turn the island of Hvar into an open-air museum. That idea put us on a path we are still following today. After the restructuring of the Center, the municipality of Jelsa took over the responsibility of local collections. Two valuable donations that followed, tell a story of the life and work of two island artists – composer Antun Dobronić from Jelsa and writer Marin Franičević from Vrisnik. Finally, the Municipal museum of Jelsa was founded in 2010 as a public institution that performs museum activities. The donation of a family house on St. John’s square together with a Cultural and historical collection and the Collection of prints, paintings and reliefs of Juraj Dobrović to the Jelsa municipality for museum purposes was the was the moving force in establishing the museum. This was an act that introduced organised and systematic care for museum objects on this municipal area.
Today, the museum acts as an integral and independent institution with collections that are organized into separate thematic units. Four of these collections are currently open to public in Jelsa and Vrboska:
The Cultural-historical collection and the Collection of prints, paintings and reliefs of Juraj Dobrović are located in the Dobrović house, which is also the museum’s central office. The ground floor of the house is reserved for the “Kravata” gallery which is mainly used for temporary artistic expositions.
The Fishermen’s collection can be found on the ground floor of the Dežulović family house in Vrboska, which is also a place of occasional exhibitions and other manifestations.
The Memorial collection of Antun Dobronić which is temporarily exhibited in the Municipal library and reading room, can be visited during the library’s working hours.
The above listed collections represent a complex set of cultural and artistic heritage (ethnography, cultural history, fine art, music, literature) that forms different identities of the local community. They reflect the everyday life, as well as events and occasions that are important to the local population, mainly fishermen and wine growers, but also to the wealthier social class that was shaped under different influences of the civic culture and art. This is the legacy of our ancestors and contemporaries that binds us not only to care for it, but also to actively participate in the cultural and social life of the local community and promote the past and present cultural identities of our own community. As such, it invites the broadest public and encourages informal learning, critical approach to tradition and artistic production whose goal is to raise the level of cultural life, and contribute to the creation of an open and creative community.