It is ethnography's responsibility to revive cultural trends which best reflect social processes along with regional and ethnic differences. At the same time ethnography plays essential role in the territories marked with people's relocations and consequently with serious clash of cultures and traditions. Lower Silesia by all means should be treated as such. Since early settlement era the region saw influences of various cultures represented by mixture of nationalities - first and foremost by the Poles, Czechs, Lusatian Serbs but also by minor ethnic groups arriving in the area with successive waves of immigration. Lower Silesia owes its unique character to major exchange of its population after the WW II and constant encounters of incoming settlers representing different systems of values. Adjusting to unknown environment, they were learning about their new homeland cultural heritage, which proved particularly complicated in the course of integration process.
Folk culture gives most visible testimony to all the abovementioned phenomena. Being this the reason, extraordinary items of folk culture have been treated with utmost care since the beginnings of Wroc³aw museums. Ethnography Department, between 1948 and 1953 a separate closed division of the State Museum, was called the Silesian Museum since 1950 and later since 1970 - the National Museum. Since 1953, when a temporary exhibition Culture of Lower Silesian Village was made available to the public, the department was being gradually transformed into an open division. In 1954 it achieved the status of an independent Division with its official office in Kazimierza Wielkiego 35, in one of the wings of the former palace of William IV - before the war since 1926 the seat of the Castle Museum (Schlossmuseum). The Branch shared the building with the Museum of Archaeology. In 1955 the first section of the permanent exhibition dedicated to the Lower Silesia folk art was made available to the public. The second section dedicated to the material culture of the region was opened three years later. The Museum was developing rapidly residing in the same building for the next several dozen years.
Former summer Palace of Wroc³aw Bishops, presently the residence of the Ethnography Museum
1999 saw the launch of a city museums reform. Newly established Municipal Museum took over the independent Museum of Archaeology which, having been transformed into a Branch, was relocated to the Arsenal building. In the same year a decision was made to extend the residence of the former Castle Museum to the wing occupied by the Ethnography Museum. Subsequently the Wroc³aw Community made a request that the National Museum return the fragment of the building occupied by its Branch. Since that moment on several year long negotiations between local government with the National Museum on one side and the city authorities with the Municipal Museum on the other side began. The talks were aimed at finding an appropriate building for the Ethnography Museum which would ensure security for its collection and enable it to conduct the statutory activities. In 2004 the parties to the negotiations concluded an agreement providing the Ethnography Museum with the permanent residence in the former summer Palace of Wroc³aw Bishops located in ul. Traugutta 111/113. The Museum moved in there in October 2004 simultaneously launching its exhibitions and educational activities. The first permanent exhibition in the new building was opened in May 2006.