The Bulgarian Academy of Science’s Ethnographic Institute, which includes a museum, is housed in the old royal mansion in Sofia. The museum is part of the so-called National Museum, which was founded in 1892 and became an autonomous organization under the name National Ethnographic Museum in 1906. The ethnographic museum and the National Art Gallery relocated into the old residential building in 1954.
In 1978, State Gazette designated the Royal Residence as a cultural monument.
The museum contains a large collection that is organized into numerous topics. The museum has one of the most extensive collections of pastoral woodcarving – around 4,000 examples of the Bulgarian way of life from the early nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries AD. Spoons, distaffs, sticks, candlesticks, and other items are among the displays. Visitors to the museum may observe musical instruments such as pipes, rebecs, and bagpipes in the Carvings collection. Part of the display features artifacts that were used by housewives, such as spinning wheels and distaffs. Some home furniture is also shown, such as closets, chairs, and so on.
The collection of religious fretworks from the Tryavna, Samokov, and Debar styles is very noteworthy.
The museum curators may give visitors fascinating information about the Bulgarian people’s customs and beliefs, which were mirrored in their way of life on weekends and throughout the workday. The collection of embroidery is one of the most intriguing. It is said that needlework is one of the most distinguishing elements of Bulgarian folklore. Even the eminent explorer Felix Kaniz said that the skill of Bulgarian needlework should be studied by world-renowned artists. The museum also houses the country’s most extensive collection of traditional Bulgarian attire.
The ethnographical museum’s other fascinating artifacts include painted eggs, ceremonial bread, and rugs; it also has a large collection of martenitsas, bridal flags, and amulets.
At the museum’s entrance, informational materials and specialist publications are available for purchase.
The Ethnographic Institute and Museum’s history extends back to the end of the nineteenth century, when the modern Bulgarian state was created. In 1892, the goal of establishing a National Museum in Sofia was accomplished, with three sections: ethnographic, numismatic, and ancient. The ethnographic division served as the foundation for Bulgaria’s first ethnographic museum, the National Ethnographic Museum, which opened in 1906. The Institute of Ethnography was founded in 1947 at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, and it was merged with the National Ethnographic Museum in 1949. That was the beginning of the Ethnographic Institute in collaboration with the Museum at BAS. The autonomous Institute of Folklore was founded in 1973, after its separation from the EIM. Both institutions were re-united in 2010 as the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum.