The National Ethographic museum is set in the former Royal Palace in Sofia, located at 1A Battenberg Square. The structure reminds one of XVIII century French palaces and consists of design elements that belong to the Renaissance and Viennese baroque periods. The museum was installed in the former palace in 1954 together with the National Art Gallery. In 1978 the building was named a cultural monument of national importance.

The museum collections include over 50,000 items from the 17th to 20th centuries representing Bulgarian Mini Kukeritraditions, arts and crafts and customs. In addition to local artifacts, the museum collects objects of Bulgarians who lived abroad. The main purpose of the museum is to collect, protect and exhibit items of national ethnographic and cultural heritage for the benefit of people and society.

Festival Masks

Currently only one section of the museum is open for visitors, with two temporary exhibitions on display. One of them is called “The Carnival King of Europe” and represents masks and customs of carnivals and festivals in Italy, Macedonia, Croatia, Bulgaria and French Catalonia. There are video screens next to the costumes of each country to help visitors feel the emotion of the carnivals and to learn more about each country’s holidays and traditions.

Traditional Italian Carnival Costume

Of particular interest are the flower hats of the so called bell shakers Zvonchari from a Croatian village, the masked matoci and arlechini from Trentino, Italy and the Macedonian bearded Djolomari. There are many photos, masks and costumes of Bulgarian kukeri from different regions of the country such as Yambol, Sliven, and Pernik.

The second exhibition shows magnificent natural images from the Aran Islands in the west of Ireland.

The museum has extensive collections of carpets, ceramics, ornaments, woodcarvings, traditional clothing and embroideries that unfortunately cannot be seen at the present time. The museum is opened every day except Monday from 10.00 – 18.00