In 1998, the Sámi Parliament decided that the East Sámi Museum/Cultural Center should be chosen as the Sámi Millennium site in Norway, a project to celebrate the start of a new millennium. In 2002 funds for the museum were allocated over the Norwegian State Budget. On behalf of the Norwegian Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs, Statsbygg announced an architectural competition, where the architect firm Pir2 from Trondheim won. The foundation and construction started in 2007. The building was completed in 2008, and transferred to Statsbygg in 2009, but with a number of shortcomings that delayed the opening. The museum finally opened on June 16th, 2017, now under the name Ä’vv Skolt Sámi Museum. The opening event gathered 700 people.
The name change was made to clarify the museum focus on conveying the Skolt Sámi culture, language and history. The term East Sámi is ambiguous because it is used differently in different countries: In Norway the term is an autonym used by the Skolt Sámi, whereas in Finland and Russia, Eastern Sámi is used as a common term for several Sámi groups. Skolt Sámi is used in Norway, Finland and to some extent in Russia.