The Ethnographic Museum (Muzeul Etnografic)

The Ethnographic Museum is situated in Belgrade, Serbia, and has been officially founded in 1901. But in reality, the museum gained shaped quite a few years back. And it is normal to have been so as each state is interested in organizing a space where the historical past of that specific nation is recorded in detail. Ethnographic items began to be collected since the 1800s and close to the middle of the 19th century some of these objects were on display at the National Museum of Serbia.

An intense gathering began in the 1860s as a result of the Serbian participation at the All-Slavic Exhibition, an event organized in the Russian capital city, Moscow. Naturally, all of the states situated in the Balkan area participated at the event. There is one aspect that could be considered as a downside to the whole thing and that is that the items gathered with this occasion remained in Moscow. But it did trigger the population’s interest into its origins and thus the state began searching deeper and deeper in order to retrace its ancestral roots.


The idea to create an actual museum of this kind was put forth in 1872 by the Serbian Learned Society. While this thought began to gradually take form and to transform itself into an actual plan, there was still a lot of work to be done in order to make the idea become a reality. It took almost thirty years for this to be attained but in the end, Serbia got its Ethnographic Museum in 1901.

The edifice which housed the museum was a gift presented to the state by Stevča Mihailović. With the lodging problem solved, the ethnographic items located at the National Museum of History were transferred to the new building. The initial collections consisted of 909 ethnographic items, 32 books, some photographs and an album belonging to Nikola Arsenijević which consisted of folk costumes made in water colors and drawing – this particular item is of great value.


But the person elected to handle the administrative aspects of the museum took his job seriously and initiated a project which would eventually rise in 3 years-time as much as 8.500 items of ethnological importance. While the focus was on the items of Serbian origin, the museum also took interest in other items which explained the formation of different civilizations located in the Balkan region. Thus the field work and research began in 1902 and continued throughout the years.

1904 marks the year when the first permanent exhibition was organized at the museum and from then onward, the supervisors of the museum have engaged in serious collecting projects, enlarging the collections found at the museum year after year.


But much of these items were destroyed during the two world wars. However, this did not mean that it was the end for the Ethnographic Museum. In fact, the museum expanded and as a part of this project, a gazette was published on a regular basis.

As time went by, the museum ended up having eight permanent expositions and nearly 300 temporary exhibitions. At present, the items found inside the museum are arranged in several collections: jewelry, folk attire, household items, pottery, glassware, film and video records, elements of national architecture, objects used in rituals, and the like.


These are organized according to the centuries in which they were used, so tourists can chronologically follow the evolution of the Serbians, in particular, and of the Balkan populations, in general, throughout time. More so, the museum has a vast library which comprises a multitude of specialized volumes. So if you are ever in Begrade and you are interested in learning more about the history of Balkan people, you will find every information you need at the Ethnographic Museum.

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