Volkskundliche Beratungsstelle
Volkskundliche Beratungsstelle
Museum für Thüringer Volkskunde


Show me how you live your daily life and I will tell you who you are!

Everyday Culture shapes our daily lives alongside all the various objects which both surround and crowd around us – and ideally – which we also use on a daily basis.These kinds of objects hold up a mirror as to how people used to live their daily lives. In the museum, the exhibits start from the most recent times, but go back as far as middle of the eighteenth century. The Thuringian Ethnological Museum, one of the most extensive ethnological museums in Germany, has preserved and presented such objects as well as offering exhibitions of the highest quality. These exhibitions display the various aspects not only of everyday life but also of each specific “culture”. The exhibits will guarantee that the visitors will increase their knowledge, experience a variety of emotions including excitement and, of course, enjoyment!


What were the lives like over the past 250 years for the "little people" in Thuringia, how did they work, celebrate and dress themselves, what happened at birth and at death, what did they eat and drink, whom could they trust and who was not be trusted, what were their hopes and fears? – the answers to all these questions besides a lot more can be found in the Thuringian Ethnological Museum. The Century Cabinet containing a wealth of items and exhibits awaits the visitors on arrival to accompany them on their journey into the past.

Daily Experiences – Change – Resistance to Change

Images of Thuringian village life in the 19th century can be pieced together like jigsaw puzzles. The images display their ethical values, their crises and moments of happiness, the fates of individuals and of families as well as highlighting technological changes: the village was neither a pure idyll nor the incarnation of backwardness.

Historical Workshops: Mask Makers, Glassblowers, Wooden Toy Makers

From the end of the 18th century, the Thuringian Forest developed into a centre for the so-called cottage industries. The products – at the head Christmas tree decorations, toys and masks – were sold all over the world. The people who produced them, however, generally led lives of dire poverty.

What about Traditional Costumes? Rural Dress in the 19th and at the Beginning of the 20th Century

Beginning from the end of the 18th century, traditional costumes entered the scene as rustic, regional clothing, but even today opinions are widely divided as to their value. For some people they are merely the relics of the distant past and are thus seen as folkloric kitsch; whereas others associate them with the conservation of tradition and the love of one’s home and region.

Virtual Life of the People: Thuringian Dolls in Traditional Dress

Dolls in traditional dress can be seen as the three-dimensional realization of the "Folkloric Pictures of Everyday Life", which were popular towards the end of the 19th century. These dolls vividly represent the various landscapes in Thuringia. However, they also tell us a lot about urban middle-class perceptions of rural and village life, which was then very much idealized (and still is).

Painted Furniture. Production – Use - Interpretation

All the painted furniture – in other words all the " articles of rustic furniture", which are part of the museum’s collection, are stored in the former loft of the museum’s building (now a listed building), and suitably arranged in rank and file, they tell their own story: the oldest items were made in the 18th century and the latest belong to the 1980s.

Traditional Crafts – Cottage Industries - Factories. Working life in the 19th Century [in process of planning]

Traditional industries, which over many generations had taken on a variety of forms of labour culture and means of earning a livelihood, experienced an unprecedented change after 1800. The people tried in many different ways to come to terms with these changes …


Ranging from the world of work to the craft guild, from the Bauhaus movement to the chip box, at least three times a year new special exhibitions reveal surprising insights into a variety of topics covering everyday life and culture between 1800 and today.


A wide variety of objects taken from rural, provincial and urban material culture between 1750 and 1950 belong to the museum’s permanent collection: furniture, household effects, work tools, textiles, glassware, ceramics, jewelry, religious objects and articles of folk art – are all complemented by a substantial collection of items pertaining to the everyday life of the GDR.


Dr. Wilhelm Knappe, a former citizen of Erfurt, showed great interest in the lives of indigenous peoples when he, at the age of thirty, landed in the "German" South Sea region in 1885 to take up a position as one of its first colonial officials. The museum owes him a huge debt of gratitude for the unique collection of ethnographic items taken from these regions: articles of daily use, cultic objects, musical instruments, jewelry and weapons. A perfectly preserved walap outrigger sailboat from the Marshall Islands and the tino aitu figure from the Nukuoro atoll are amongst the museum’s most treasured rarities and these have received world-wide acclaim.
Location : Outer display storeroom at at the Benary-Speicher*


Stored in spaces steeped in history, the rooms accommodate closed collection holdings. Innovative technical solutions contribute to the appropriate storage of specific items and to their care and conservation.
Display storerooms are workplaces which provide for the storage of scientific data, for the preparation of exhibitions and specialist catalogues, for handling loan inquiries and for offering specialist consultations.
Viewing: Only for special guided tours and on request!


In the collection, the visitors can discover precious, "normal" and bizarre items, which go back to the childhood and teenage years not only of Mum and Dad but also back to the times of (Great-) Grandma and (Great-) Grandpa. Whatever may seem odd to the younger visitors, will awaken memories for the older generations – all this contributes to making a visit to the Museum into an enjoyable and memorable experience. Here, there is something for everybody! ,


Why not join our association? If you do, you will help to finance our Museum, our exhibitions, architectural plans and publications, you will help to arrange events, to fund acquisitions, to assert the Museum’s public presence and to provide it with a powerful lobby. Contact:


With the support of the city of Erfurt and the state of Thuringia in the Thuringian Ethnological Museum was the Office set up in 1997 and it offers free specialist consultations to non-commercial users.
Contact: +49 (0)361 / 655 56 12/13


At our Museum, the visitor can learn a lot about Thuringian everday and cultural history in a variety of ways: ranging from a classical round tour of the collections as well as from a (special) guided tour to (educational) project days and workshops. (There are also special creative workshops). Academic and scientific conferences, colloquia and meetings of specific workgroups, all serve to enhance exchanges with both colleagues and ethnological researchers.


The Museum’s own series of publications is committed to accord with the latest insights in this field. The publications can be obtained from the Museum’s ticket office or via postal delivery.
Our reference library has a wide variety of specialist and ethnological literature available for the reader.


For the Thuringian Consortium for Ethnology e. V. and the Ethnological Commission for Thuringia e. V. in the Thuringian Ethnological Museum: both associations are very successful in coordinating and promoting ethnological cooperation in Thuringia.
Contact: +49 (0)361 / 655 56 13


The Great Hospital of Erfurt is a most impressive building situated on a site in front of the former city gates near the famous medieval highway called the Via Regia. The Hospital was a charitable institution which performed pastoral duties as well as applying the medical knowledge of that time. As both the Hospital and its chapel were beneficiaries of numerous benefactors and foundations, they were virtually financially self-sufficient. From 1500 the Hospital became a so-called prebendal institution, which determined the layout and use of the buildings – particularly with regard to the mansion house, which has accommodated the Thuringian Ethnological Museum since 1955.

Opening Times:Tuesdays to Sundays including official holidays (from 10 am to 6 pm)

Entrance Fees:Permanent Exhibitions 6 EUR standard charge; 4 EUR reduced; 3 EUR for groups of at least 10 persons; 13 EUR for families Special Exhibitions special entrance fees | Free Entry for School and Pre-school Classes (weekdays), for children below the age of six and for the public on the first Tuesday in the month.

Guided Tours:(on appointment; maximum of 25 persons) One hour 40 EUR, one and a half hours 60 EUR (plus 3 EUR entrance fee per person)

Access:: 5 minutes on foot from the Anger or by public transport: Number 2 Tram (Tram Stop Krämpfertor) also lines 1 and 5 (Tram Stop Stadtmuseum/ Kaisersaal); by car: A4 Exit Erfurt/ West, Direction: City Centre, parking spaces in the Anger multi-storey car park.

* Location of the South Sea Collection:Outer display storeroom at the Benary-Speicher, Brühler Str. 37, 99084 Erfurt. Viewing: only for special guided tours and on request Contact: +49 (0)361-6 55 56 21;!