Slovenski etnografski muzej

100 Years of the Slovene Ethnographic Museum

100 Years of the Slovene Ethnographic Museum

Director of Slovene Ethnographic Museum, Natalija Polenec. Photo: Andraž Blaznik.

In 2023 we are marking a jubilee, 100 years of the establishment of the Slovene Ethnographic Museum (SEM), the oldest ethnological institution in Slovenia.

The beginnings of Slovenia’s central ethnology museum are linked to the Carniolan Provincial Museum (today’s National Museum of Slovenia), founded in 1821, within which the Ethnographic Institute was established in 1921. In 1923 it then became the Royal Ethnographic Museum, predecessor of today’s Museum.

Today, the SEM mainly holds collections from the 19th century onwards. These are collections from the territory of Slovenia, collections related to Slovenian expatriates and emigrants as well as non-European collections. To date, the Museum keeps approximately 40,000 items, of which about 30,000 are Slovenian and 10,00o non-European. The objects came to the Museum in different ways. Some were inherited from the Provincial Museum of Carniola, while others were collected by museum curators.

As a modern museum, the SEM responds both to the development of museology as well as ethnology. Since its establishment, the number of employees has increased, and today they operate in different departments (expert, administrative and technical), which are indispensable for the operation of a modern museum. Since 2011, the SEM has also assumed the role of the National Coordinator for Intangible Cultural Heritage. When performing its core tasks, the SEM liaises with ethnological and anthropological institutions, museums and other cultural heritage institutions in Slovenia and abroad, as well as with various faculties. It has been successfully demonstrating its international orientation by participating in many different European projects.

We have prepared an interesting programme of exhibitions and events for you this year. Among other things, the Museum is planning to inaugurate a new permanent exhibition about Humans and Time, release a monograph on the Museum, set up several of its own exhibitions and host occasional visiting exhibitions, and it will also tour abroad with its exhibition and collections.

SEM exhibitions appeal to different visitors, are part of the school curriculum and are created in the Museum in cooperation with other institutions and museums. We occasionally open our doors to visiting exhibitions or take our exhibitions to our partners in Slovenia and abroad. Every year, we put on display from 3,500 to 5,000 items and organise dozens of exhibition-related events.

The Museum’s jubilee year operates under the motto 100 years of the SEM: Let’s Celebrate Together! The central event will take place in the second half of June, when the SEM will prepare a cultural programme for the general public on the platform in front of the Museum, with a concert, diverse programme and open house day with free admission.

The SEM is a living and open museum. We invite you to visit us this year, as we celebrate with the motto 100 Years of the SEM: Let’s Celebrate Together!, but also in the future. We look forward to meeting you!

Natalija Polenec, Director of SEM

100 objects from the SEM collections

100 objects from the SEM collections

100 years - 100 objects

In the festive year, we present selected 100 museum objects, which show the richness and diversity of the collections of the Slovene Ethnographic Museum.

First 30 objects