When the Society of Friends of Dubrovnik Antiques was founded back in 1952, it was to sensitize the broader public on the importance of preservation of Dubrovnik’s cultural and historical heritage, raising awareness and interest for them, appealing to the pride and appreciation of the public. In the 19th century, the antique architectural riches of the city were poorly protected, works of art sold, stolen, or vanished; the awareness of their importance for the city but a budding idea. That pro-active thinking was put into action after World War II by the city’s proud son Lukša Beritić (1889-1969), naval engineer, patriot and art enthusiast, co-founder, the first president and the lifelong honorary president of the Society. Through his tireless efforts, backed by his impeccable reputation as explorer, writer, activist (he was the commissioner of the Conservation Institute for Dalmatia for Dubrovnik), and honorary curator, he contributed to public approval and acceptance of the Society of Friends of Dubrovnik Antiquities and was trusted with maintenance and management over the city’s most glorious antiquity: the city walls. The Society also put tremendous effort into preservation of the walls of Ston, a complex of defense walls and forts unique in Europe.
Despite several institutions working on the protection of antiquities in the area, the Society (which since 1960. has been legally registered) has always had an important position in these activities, enjoying public trust. Throughout the years it became evident the bright idea of Mr. Beritić was well ahead of its time, as the public became aware of the importance of preservation of cultural riches. His ultimate wish came true: volunteers, experts, and institutions working together to raise awareness and protect the cultural heritage of the Dubrovnik area. The greatness of his visionary idea is obvious now more than ever.