The Museum owes its existence to the Macedonian Educational Association (Constantinople 1871-1922, Thessaloniki 1924 and on).
In 1931 the President if the Association, Yannis Taris (1885-1968), proposed the creation of a “folklore section” and began to collect and assemble material.The result was the Folklife Museum of Northern Greece, which was founded in 1957 as a private entity.
In 1958 Y.Taris was succeeded as President by Konstantinos Kefalas (1898-1989), who zealously pursued the work of expanding, recording and exhibiting the original collection.
In 1970 the Folklife and Ethnological Museum of Macedonia was founded as a public entity and in 1971 it was placed under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture. The three-storey building then known as the “Old Governor's House” was ceded to the institution and the M.E.A made over its collection to the new Museum, which was inaugurated in 18/2/1973.
In 1986 the superintendence of the Museum passed to the Ministry of Macedonia-Thrace, and was returned to the Ministry of Culture in 2001. In 1993 the Museum was renamed the Folklife and Ethnological Museum of Macedonia-Thrace as its compass was extended to include Thrace.