The Ljubljana Ethnographic Museum: a Trip to Nature Culture

Slovenia is full of history, and Ljubljana is among the most beautiful cities in the world. Among the trendiest places to visit in town is the Ljubljana Ethnographic Museum. It has a bunch of curiosities you likely won’t see anywhere else.

Known as the Slovenia Ethnographic Museum, the exhibit shows some of the biggest cultural pieces from all over the country. Every piece speaks about the history of Ljubljana and many Slovenian locales throughout its existence.

If you’re looking for some trinkets and baubles, get ready to be amazed. The Ljubljana Ethnographic Museum has many things in it, and you might surprise yourself. If you think culture doesn’t have to be haughty, then this permanent exhibition is for you.

What Is The Slovene Ethnographic Museum?

The Slovene Ethnographic Museum is Slovenia’s foremost ethnological museum. Their mandate is to keep, preserve, study, and understand various artifacts. These collections pertain to the material, spiritual, and social cultures of Slovenia and other European countries.

If you’d think that this is also the National Museum of Slovenia’s job, you’re likely right. Before 1923, the museum was part of the National Museum, but they eventually separated from it.

Its earliest origins go back to the Provincial Museum of Carniola (Deželni muzej za Kranjsko) in 1821. The history of the museum itself is truly amazing.

A Quick History

The history of the Ljubljana Ethnographic Museum goes as far back as the Provincial Museum of Carniola’s early years. The first items the museum had were non-European items from outside the continent.

Many Slovenian seamen and catholic missionaries tend to receive on their journeys. The trinkets and charms they got from all over various corners of the world were beautiful cultural oddities. Over time, the collection started to grow from a variety of donations.

The ethnological collections eventually needed a separate exhibition. The Institute of Slovenian Ethnography (Inštitut za Slovensko narodopisje) started handling the collection in 1921. Many pieces came housed in the Rudolfinum building in Ljubljana at the National Museum.

As the collection grew larger and larger, they eventually needed to go independent. Niko Županič headed the institute, becoming the Royal Ethnographic Museum. 20 years later, the exhibit was renamed the Ethnographic Museum and, finally, the Slovene Ethnographic Museum in 1964.

Many of the cultural collections of the museum were not on the grounds of the exhibition itself. With so many, management opted to present them in some of the castles around Ljubljana itself. This helped boost tourism and populate many of these castles around Old Town.

For example, the Goričane Castle housed non-European collections until 2001. Eventually, management put the collection back together. In 1997, the Ljubljana Ethnographic Museum moved to its current location in Metelkova ulica.

Metelkova ulica is among the trendiest districts in Ljubljana. It is the center for social and progressive culture in the nation. It also contains other sister museums to the Slovene Ethnographic Museum.

What is the Purpose of the Ethnographic Museum?

The purpose of the Ljubljana Ethnographic Museum is to offer insight into both the traditional and contemporary culture of Slovenia. It even considers neighboring countries, many of which were crucial to the Slovene identity, like Italy, Austria, and Hungary.

The museum also takes care of historical pieces that talk about the European diaspora. The people that went to Slovenia, together with the ethnic groups that built them, are crucial to the nation’s spirit. It celebrates these cultures by letting their legacy live on.

The ethnographic museum doesn’t limit its focus to European cultures too. The longstanding tradition of Europe is interacting with various non-European cultures. Bringing a piece of their history back for Slovenians to see is part of its mission.

Understanding non-European cultures give the average Slovene a window into the world. Beyond what is on the internet, the Ljubljana Ethnographic Museum offers hands-on experiences about various parts of the world.

Why Visit the Ljubljana Ethnographic Museum?

Now that you know what to expect of the Ljubljana Ethnographic Museum, why should you go there? Why would you spend your day looking at some old pieces of culture? Here are five reasons you should give it a visit.

It Offers Easy Access

Getting to the Slovene Ethnographic Museum is both easy and convenient. It may not be in the center of Old Town, but it offers unparalleled access to visitors. The museum is close to the railway station and UKC Ljubljana.

You will also find other things to do in the area, so you’re not limited to the ethnographic museum. Once you take in your fill of the culture, you can go to Metelkova Mesto and enjoy urban and street art.

There’s also the National Museum of Slovenia if you want a more traditional museum to visit. You have access to the Museum of Contemporary Art and even the Slovenian Cinematheque.

If you’re in any way interested in the local culture, visiting the Ljubljana Ethnographic Museum is the way to go. The place is always alive, and you’ll discover a whole new world there.

It Shows A Lifetime of Slovene Heritage

Many tourists don’t have a lifetime to learn about Slovene heritage. Understanding the life and times of the Slovenian people takes time. It goes as far back as the early years when it was a Roman outpost called Emona.

The Ljubljana Ethnographic Museum is a good way to learn more about the heritage of Slovenians. If you have kids with you, it will give them an idea of how people live and still live in Slovenia and the rest of the world.

Much of the museum is a very hands-on experience. Rather than acting as a gallery behind glass display cases, much of the experience is visual and tactile. Many of the artifacts are pleasing to the eyes and would need touching to enjoy.

Many of the artifacts range from farming implements, masks, traditional clothes, and more. Many exhibits are there to spark the imagination. There’s even a playroom that kids can enjoy on the third floor.

It Caters To Children

Much of the Ljubljana Ethnographic Museum caters to children. The human experience tends to present itself better to young minds curious about the past. Among the best ways to convey this is through the museum’s ethno-maze.

The ethno-maze gives children a place to both play and explore records of the past. Children can try, feel, enjoy, and even play old toys and games from children of previous generations.

Every Saturday, kids can also attend a pottery workshop, which is right next to the coffee shop. Parents can leave their kids in the pottery shop while enjoying a nice cup of coffee in between.

It Has Great Coffee

Speaking of coffee, the local coffee shop for the Slovene Ethnographic Museum is fantastic. Knowing Slovenia’s coffee culture, the shop offers some of the best blends from this side of the Old Town. There are also delicious traditional sweets you will enjoy for sure.

While your kids are spending their energy on beautiful pottery, sit down. Sip a nice cup of coffee and relax before you go on a heritage adventure once more. The museum entrance is free every first Sunday, so a delicious Sunday cup shouldn’t be too bad.

The Temporary Exhibits Are Lovely

The permanent exhibitions of the Ljubljana Ethnographic Museum are lovely. They show everything that Slovenia and the region have to offer. What’s more stunning, however, are the temporary exhibitions.

If you’ve visited the museum once, it’s best to see it another time again. The exhibits they offer change every now and then, featuring a different culture every time. 

In some instances, you’ll find artifact exhibitions from Middle-Eastern cultures. In other times, you’ll see artifacts from European ethnic groups and even South American trinkets and baubles.

Before You Go To The Museum

Before you go to the Ljubljana Ethnographic Museum, there are a few things you need to know. Following these tips will surely enhance your experience when you visit the museum.

For starters, there are two permanent exhibitions in the museum. The first is the Between Nature and Culture, offering an outlook into every day and holiday life. The items come from various times throughout Slovenia’s long history.

The second is I, Us, and Others – Images of My World, which is an international exhibition. It shows the world in the perspective of humans as an individual. 

Apart from the permanent exhibitions, there are various temporary exhibits and workshops almost every week. You can find small exhibitions about gingerbreads and candlemaking. You’ll also find period-accurate recreations of various landmarks in Slovenia.

It’s best to give their website a visit first and see what is the current exhibit. The museum also has an online gallery that shows off its collection. You’ll even find collections about contemporary times like the COVID-19 and how people cope with it.

The Ljubljana Ethnographic Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 AM to 6 PM. The admission goes at around six euros for adults and three euros for students and seniors. Admission is free for pre-schoolers, PWDs, or those with museum passes.


The Ljubljana Ethnographic Museum is a beautiful look into Slovenian heritage. It is about people, for people, and it’s time well spent if you give the locale a visit.

It’s hard not to love this museum, so it’s best to give it a try. You can also come back to it, again and again, to see new perspectives into human society.

If you plan on visiting the Ljubljana Ethnographic Museum or the rest of Ljubljana, take a look at where else you can go. The Old Town is waiting for you.

Thank you for reading our article. We do our best to provide you with first-hand information about Slovenia and its wonders. We know we are not infallible though. In case you encounter any mistakes in our articles or you have any suggestions, please contact us. Let us know how we could improve. It will help us to keep our information updated and deliver to readers the most valuable possible content.  We will gladly take your suggestions!

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