The Ethnographic Museum is housed in a Renaissance house from 1895, which was converted into a museum in 1980. At present, more than 1500 museum items are stored in its collection. The exhibits are related to the livelihood and way of life of the local population, to home and lifestyle, to holidays and customs. The development of the exhibition plan was entrusted to Penko Puntev from the Institute of Ethnography.
A large part of the inventory of the Ethnographic House was collected between 1983-1989 by the fund “1300 years of Bulgaria”, after extensive collection work. Significant donations were received, which enriched the collection of the Ethnography Department.
On the first floor, in two halls, the exposition “Crafts and livelihood in the Balchik region in the first half of the 19th century” is unfolded – abbotry, leatherwork, cooperage, copperwork, ironwork, fishing, agriculture, cattle breeding. Of interest are the original master testimonies of local craftsmen who had workshops in the town.On display are a dikanya, palamarki, a villa, a shepherd’s yamurluk, fishing nets, household utensils and authentic implements typical of the livelihood of this region.
In the room “houses” the central place is occupied by the hearth, around which the whole family gathers, next to which are arranged bakers, a sofa with three-legged stools, objects necessary for lighting the fire and preparing the meal. Here is the waterpot on which the water vessels are hung. From one corner the bread and nightshade seals “peep”, colourful bowls and pitchers shine from the shelves.
On the second floor the main theme of the museum exposition is developed – folk art, reflected primarily in folk fabrics and costumes, showing the skills, sense of harmony and beauty of the Bulgarian woman. The costumes on display give an idea of the demographic shape of the Dobrudja region, and the clothing differs in its great variety.
In the exposition are presented devices related to the fibre harvesting – wool and hemp looms, checkers, gears, hooks and a horizontal loom. Soba is the most representative room in the Dobrudja house. Here one can see the long minderas covered with red tablecloths, the colourful cushions, the cradle, the raklas. Beautiful Dobrudzha rugs and peshkiri made of cotton, silk and wool peek out from the racks. In a separate room, the city life is also represented – with the heavy wooden mirror, marble dressing table, wooden chest of drawers, Viennese chairs and armchairs, family album.
The Ethnographic House houses a modest collection of works by local master goldsmiths. One of the most characteristic features of Bulgarian women’s clothing is the use of a large number of decorations, especially in festive garments. Strings, chins, earrings, bracelets, rings – all of them have a symbolism related to folk beliefs. The ornaments are made of various metal alloys, silver, gold, coins, coral, glass beads, and seedef. They are housed in showcases distinguished by type. There is a great variety of pawls that are attached to a fabric, serge or cinch belt. Beaded and multi-coloured wool jewellery is also shown.
Since 2016, an open-air exhibition of the courtyard tells visitors its story – that of wine. It traces the “Way of Wine” – from the sowing of the vines, the harvesting of the grapes to the preparation of the wine. There are places to relax where you can enjoy the quiet, beauty and style of the Ethnographic House.
The Ethnographic Museum organizes annual exhibitions (“Easter through my eyes”), concerts, outdoor theatres, creative workshops, demonstrations of old crafts. Open museum lessons are held (From Harvest to Bread, From Grandma’s Chest, Tales by Father’s Hearth), interactive games, presentations, charity bazaars and exhibitions. A variety of educational programmes are being worked on to make objects using traditional techniques. There are also reenactments of festivals from the folk calendar such as Lazarov Day, St. George’s Day, Midsummer Day with the participation of local folklore singing and dancing groups, kindergartens and schools. The museum thus becomes a place where tradition comes alive.
A real journey in time awaits you, making every Bulgarian aware of his roots. By preserving the spirit, tradition and culture of our people for future generations, the museum becomes an ambassador of Bulgarianness.