10 (23) January 1902 is usually considered the birthday of the Russian Museum of Ethnography. It was established as Ethnographic Department of the Emperor Alexander III Russian Museum founded on 13 April 1895 according to the Decree by Emperor Nicholas II."Regulations for the Emperor Alexander III Russian Museum" dated 14 February 1897 said:
"1. Established to memorize Emperor Alexander III, Patron of Russian Art, not subject to oblivion, with the purpose to unite everything relating to His personality and history of His Reign and provide a clear appreciation of the cultural and artistic status of Russia.
2. Therefore Museum is divided into three departments:
I. Dedicated to the memory of Emperor Alexander III
The main purpose of the Ethnographic Department was formulated as follows:
"To represent a picture of our motherland's ethnographic variety, a picture of peoples inhabiting Russia and her immediate neighborhood"
The Department was opened on 10 (23) January 1902 after its personnel had been approved by Nicholas II and its funding by the state treasury had been started.