The Russian Ethnography Museum is near the Mikhailovsky Palace, or the Russian Museum, which is daily visited by hundreds of people coming there to look at its pictures. The Russian Ethnography Museum was opened in 1895 as a part of the Russian Museum. But later the museums were separated and now it is one of the largest ethnography museums in Europe.
Each Russian city has its local history museum. But it is only on the huge exhibition spaces of the the Ethnography Museum one can get an idea of the size of Russia and the number of its peoples. The most interesting collections of culture and household items of nearly all main peoples of the Russian Empire – from the Caucasus to Chukotka – have been gathered there. One can get some idea of the scale of the museum only when entering its giant foyer or the Marble Hall. The other halls are at least as interesting.
According to the project, the sculpture of Alexander III had to be in the center of the Marble Hall as the museum was opened under this Russian emperor. A bronze bas relief with the scenes from the life of the peoples that inhabited Russia had to run around the hall. By 1917 the bas relief was almost finished and now one can see it at the museum. But there is no sculpture of Alexander III at the museum.
The main halls of the museum strike by their size. According to the architectural design, they had to correspond to the scale of the Russian Empire. Over 7000 m² were alloted for permanent exhibitions and expositions, and another 2000 square meters – for temporal expositions. The building of the Ethnography Museum is even bigger than that of the Russian Museum.
The main part of the expositions is devoted to the Russian culture of 19-20 centuries and the peoples, which inhabited the country. They contain national clothing, household items, religious objects, cold weapon, musical instruments, jewellery, stone, metal, and ceramic articles. There one can also see the culture and household items of the peoples of Ukraine, Byelorussia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia, which were then included in the Russian Empire.