The Ethnic Culture Department of the National Museum of Lithuania boasts the largest collections in the country reflecting the ethnic features of Lithuanian folk culture, peasants’ crafts, trades and daily life. At the present time the collection consists of circa 80 thousand exhibits: objects of traditional culture, wooden sculptures of saints, iron tops of memorial monuments, household utensils, vehicles, furniture, work tools, peasants’ clothes and homemade textiles from the late 18th to the first half of the 20th century. The collections are supplemented with iconographic material, drawings, schemes, photographs and ethnographic inventories.
The earliest exhibits were taken over from the Ethnographic Museum of Stephen Báthory University and the Lithuanian Scientific Society. A great number of exhibits were collected during ethnographic field trips organised since 1949, and quite many were acquired from private individuals. From the mid-20th century, the department began to accumulate the finest works by folk artists characterised by strong links to the tradition and creative interpretation of traditional ornamentation and colours – national costumes, sashes, wedding decorations, wickerwork baskets, amber and iron works, wood carving and works of fine art.
The ethnographic collection is divided into thematic groups and presented to society by various means – scientific research is conducted, exhibitions are held, catalogues are published, and since 1991 the annual chronicle „Ethnography“ is published.