This is the first history of the Ufa Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography since its creation in 1976. One of the museum’s most active collaborators, the author offers a fascinating view of the Museum’s institutional evolution and scientific life. The first chronological stage concerns the effort provided in 1976-1980 for collecting exhibition materials, out of archaeological and ethnographic findings in the Southern Urals. In the second period of its history, from 1980 to 1993, the museum became an important centre for ethnological studies in the whole Volga-Urals region under Rail’ Kuzeev (1929-2005)’s leadership. In 1991, the discovery of the Filippovskii kurgan supplied the museum with golden masterpieces of Sarmat tribes (fourth century BCE). In 1993, the creation of the Department of the Urals Peoples of the Ufa Centre of the Academy of Sciences of Russia marked a shift between national-oriented intelligentsias. Included in this new Department, the Museum of Archaeology was detached from the Institute of History, which became the centre of the new Bashkir historiography. On the contrary, the scholars attached to the Museum developed, under the scientific influence of Valerii Tishkov, a less ‘primordialistic’ analysis of ethnic history. On the basis of Rail’ Kuzeev’s work, a new research school was formed with dozens of young scholars involved, during the second half of the 1990s, in wide and high-quality ethnological studies. Before his death, Kuzeev managed to reinforce the independence of the Museum by transforming the Department of the Urals Peoples in a Centre of Ethnological Studies. Thanks to this article, it is now possible to trace in detail the history of a peculiar Museum which is at the same time one of the largest depositories of archaeological and ethnographical collections, and one of present-day Russia’s most influential academic centres.