The Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade was founded in 1901, when the Ethnographic Department was separated from the National Museum to become an independent institution. The inauguration of the first permanent exhibition of the Ethnographic Museum was organized on September 20, 1904, on the occasion of the centennial of the First Serbian Uprising.
During the first years of its work, the activities of the Ethnographic Museum were focused on the purchase of museum items and the presentation of the Kingdom of Serbia abroad. Items to be included in museum collections were collected during field research throughout the then territory of Serbia and the neighboring countries where the Serbs also lived.Since its founding until the present day, the museum has been dedicated to professional collecting and the study of museum objects and ethnogenetic processes, traditional material culture, social relations and family life, customs, beliefs and folklore. It has also been involved in the study of the features of Serbian culture, as well as those of other ethnic groups living within the region. In addition to collecting artefacts, since the 1960s, team research into the ethnographic areas of northeastern and western Serbia was introduced as a permanent activity of the museum. Research results are published in professional and academic journals and catalogs.
The Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade organizes temporary and permanent exhibitions. Eight permanent exhibitions and several hundred temporary exhibitions in the country and abroad have been organized so far. The eighth permanent exhibition, titled The Folk Culture of the Serbs in the 19th and 20th Centuries, was set up in 2001. Over the past twenty-two years, the International Festival of Ethnographic Film has been a regular programme organized by the museum. The museum also organizes workshops for children and adults, lectures, book presentations and concerts.