Leonilda (Ilda) Begonja-Vidović was born in Split, where she went to primary and high schools. She took a degree in 1954 from the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb, ethnology major. From 1954 she worked in the Split Ethnographic Museum. At the beginning of her career she managed the Collection of Costumes and Textiles of Dalmatia. She was appointed director of the Split Ethnographic Museum in 1959, and acquired the rank of museum adviser in 1983.
As director, she managed the specialised and scientific work and the organisation of the new permanent display, for which she prepared the part about costume and jewellery. She authored numerous exhibitions, the most significant of which are: Copper and Brass, 1968; Ethnography and Children’s Expression, 1971; Bedspreads in the Dalmatian House, 1977; she was joint author of the exhibitions: Contours of a Time, 1965; Museum and the Child, 1965; the Sinj Alka, 1968; Folk Art, 1969; Lace and Needlework, 1969. She took part in many exhibitions outside the Ethnographic Museum. She ran field works, ethnological investigations, purchases, recordings made in the sites of the islands of Pag, Zlarin (costume), Krapanj (costume), Ciovo , Šolta, Hvar, Brac, Korcula, Lastovo, Biševo – rural architecture.
She registered about 150 immovable monuments and 30 rural units in villages in the area of the Makarska coast. She was leader of a team of ethnologists that spent time in 1971 in Italy and studied the life of the Croats living in Molise.
She was also consultant and expert associate in the recording of documentary and feature films. She authored several feasibility studies: Ethnography and Tourism (for the district assembly of Split), 1966; Keeping Carnival on Lastovo, 1966; Ethnopark (for a group of architects as part of the arrangement of Veli Varoš, Split, 1969; Winery Museum of Dalmatia (for Dalmacijavino, Split).
At the request of the Republic Institute for the Conservation of Monuments of Culture in Zagreb and the Alkar Association in Sinj, in 1978 she valued the whole inventory of costumes of the Alka in Sinj. She was a winner of the Charter of the Federation of Museum Workers of Yugoslavia for outstanding successes and creative activity, and the Pavao Ritter Vitezovic Prize of the Croatian Museum Association for lifetime achievement. She retired in 1985.
NB. Data taken from the questionnaire, material taken from the Personnel Archives of the MDC, and from an interview recorded on June 19, 2006.
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