There are 3 working expositions at the museum:
The first is devoted to the ethnography and ethnographic collections of Kazan University. During the first half of the 19th century the Cabinet of Curiosities has been enriched with the exotic items brought by I.M.Simonov and O.M.Kovalevskii from their expeditions.
During the second half of the 19th century the museum has undergone structural changes, after which it reappeared as Homeland Museum. Alongside with the Homeland Museum there were two more at the university devoted to ethnography: Cabinet of Geography (founded by P.I.Krotov) and the Museum of Archeology, History and Ethnography (collected by I.N.Smirnov, N.V. Nikolskii, T.Y.Yevseeva, N.F. Katanova).
In 1913 initiated by B.F. Adler ethnographic collections of Homeland Museum, Cabinet of Geography Museum and the Museum of Archeology, History and Ethnography were united into Ethnographic Museum of Kazan University.
2nd exposition is devoted to the ethnography of Volga region ethnicities.
Household utensils, objects of intellectual culture and religious faiths, men- and women garments, accessories are represented.
Tatar collection contains unique national clothing, shoes and headwear (kalfaks and tubeteikas), ornaments with precious gems and semi-precious stones, which belonged to Prof. N.F. Katanov, merchant Ishmeev, one of the first “shamails” (extract from the Quran) published by Karimov brothers.
Chuvash collection is represented by fancy items presenting Chuvash wedding party, Chuvash perspectiveless painting and pagan cult items.
Mid-Volga Russians are represented by the great number of garment items, gold- and silver-, pearl and gimp embroidered headware, and the collection of ancient craft – Russian printing, collection of Russian silver motifs and Orthodox Crosses, icons, and Sikler’s folding icons.
Finno-Ugric ethnic group is represented, first of all, by Udmurt, Mari and Mordovian collections. Among Mari collection items there are kerchiefs, embroidery, lace and beads decorations, garment items, men and women outfit mannequins. Very special are hunting items (slings and different pike arrows, wolf trap) and items of forest bee-keeping. There is also a wide range of Mordovian traditional dress, headware, pectoral and waist decorations made of beads, gimp, wool and coins.
3rd collection is devoted to the world ethnography.
The largest are collections of Central and South African ethnic groups. Extensively presented military and hunt weapons, wooden and wattle homeware introduce the culture of Cameroon, Sudan, Uganda, Dahomey and Somalia. There are fabric samples, primitive weaver’s loom, clothes and accessories. Musical instruments of different types: drums, rattle-boxes, and other complex instruments like marimba are of special interest. There is also a series of cult items containing masks and idols.
South American section is rich in weapons (bows, arrows and spears), clothing and accessories, in particular accessories made of bug’s shards, butterfly cocoons and parrot feathers, houseware, reflecting morals and manners of Brazilian forest area population. There are also some items from Patagonia and Pierra del Fuego.
North American collection consists of garment items, tools, Canadian-Indian hunting-fishing tackle of the Great Lakes. The collection of Aleutian culture, represented as a series of red-eye guts hearth, goods made of walrus bones, leather models, boats, harpoons and hair ropes. Tlinkit wooden masks are also of a great interest.
High-culture regions of America are symbolized by a collection of antique items of Mexico and Peru; among them is pottery, fabric samples, weaving items, cult items, and the mummy of a young girl with exequial objects.
Asia is represented mainly by Chinese collection, the collection devoted to Buddhism cult in Mongolia, and some items from Korea, Japan, and Iran. Chinese collection consists of items brought to Kazan University by O.M. Kovalevskii. The exposition exhibits men- and women garments. There is a large amount of shoe items (from heavy boots to different women’s shoes, including very tiny ones, which were worn by Chinese women of wealthy families, whose legs had been bandaged since the very childhood. There are several items devoted to spiritual cult of China. Here one can see pen and ink, special marble plates for rubbing China ink, set of dry ink sticks, brushes and also examples of Chinese manuscripts, some books, compasses, sundials, counters and many other things.
Populations of Sayans (Khakas, Karagas) are represented by collections of N.F. Katanov. There are garment items, smoking accessories, wooden handled knives lead incrusted and other things.
Tuvinian culture is represented by the collection of S.A. Teploukhov (1914) and N.V. Zorina (1955). Men’s vest of black velvet with Chinese coloured ribbons, headware embroidered with golden braid and silken inkle, dishware, several caskets and low benches painted with bright traditional ornament, wooden scrimchess, wooden statuettes of cavaliers in traditional dress, shamans and different animals.
Middle East section demonstrates ancient Uzbek weapons: bows, arrows, leather quivers, blocks and flint guns collected by student Koltsov. The trade and its products are also represented: fabric samples, metal- and ceramics-goods, wood engravings, primitive tools dating to the XIXth century. Here one may see Uzbek vests, different footwear and women’s apparel, for example, purdah. There is a great collection of copper utensils, smoking facilities, musical instruments and literature items.