Goedang Ransoem Museum, A Legacy Of The Golden Age Of Coal Mining in West Sumatra

“Understanding the Past to Stare upon the Future”, is what’s written at the entrance of the Goedang Ransoem Museum; a reminder that history may teach you the best lessons to face the challenges of the future.

Standing at Jalan Abdul Rahman Hakim Street, Air Dingin area, in the town of Sawahlunto, in the province of West Sumatra, the Goedang Ransoem Museum is a legacy of the golden age of coal mining in West Sumatra. Literally translated as the Museum of the “Provision Warehouse”, the museum once played an important role in the supply and logistics of food for mine workers during Dutch Colonial times.

WH de Greeve, a Dutch Geologist who discovered coal in Sawahlunto in 1868 estimated that there was over 200 million tons of coal buried beneath the surface of Sawahlunto. This was what eventually drove the Dutch Colonial government to invest over 5.5 million guilders to build settlements and mining facilities, as well as import mining equipment from Germany. Subsequently, a railroad track was laid from Sawahlunto to Teluk Bayur (known at the time as Emma Haven) in Padang to transport the coal.

With a collection of over 150 items and more than 250 photographs, the museum will take visitors back to the days when Sawahlunto was bustling with mining activities.

Museum Goedang Ransoem
Museum Goedang Ransoem (Source : wikipedia.org)

The facility was built in 1881 and served as the central kitchen to provide food for mine workers. It has two huge warehouses and a steam generator. At the time, this central kitchen employed approximately 100 employees and on a daily basis cooked about 3, 900 Kilograms of rice with other complementary menus. Not only for the mine workers, the central kitchen also supplied food for families of mine workers family as well as hospital patients. With the enormous amount of food that needed to be produced, the kitchen used special huge cooking equipment which can be seen in the museum today.

The standard lunch and dinner menu for the time usually consisted of rice, meat, salted fish, salted eggs, and various vegetables. For breakfast, they usually served the traditional Lapek-lapek, which is made from red sticky rice, coconut, and brown sugar,  wrapped in banana leaf. Replica of some of the menus can be seen today in the museum.

The kitchen used a steam system and was connected to the steam generator using big pipes underneath the kitchen which heated about 20 stoves. The steam was generated from boiled water from huge water boilers.

Later, the warehouse was used by Indonesian Independence Arm Forces as their provision center during the Japan occupation in the World War II and the 2nd Dutch Military Aggression.

After Indonesia declared Independence, the facility was used by the Ombilin Coal Mine Company as part of the mining complex, Ombilin Junior High School (1960-1970), workers compound (until 1980), and also as public settlement until 2004. In 2005, the entire complex was established as a conservation area under the management of the city of Sawahlunto. On 17th December 2005, the Goedang Ransoem Museum was officially opened by Indonesia’s Vice President at the time, Jusuf Kalla.

The Museum has also been used as venue for the Sawahlunto International Music Festival (SIMFest) which brought together international ethnic musicians from 5 continents.

The Museum is open to the public Tuesdays to Fridays from 07.30-16.30 West Indonesia Time, and Saturday and Sunday from 09.00 to 16.00 West Indonesia Time.

Goedang Ransoem Museum

Jl. Abdul Rahman Hakim, Sawahlunto, Sumatera Barat


While Minangkabau’s cuisine or more popularly known as Padang Food continues to highlight the culinary scene of Sawahlunto, you may want to try a special menu called Dendeng Batokok which is available in the Dendeng Batokok Restaurant not far from the Sawahlunto main road.

Dendeng are beef slices marinated in herbs and crisply fried. Although it is similar to the Dendeng of Minangkabau cuisine found in other parts of the country, the dendeng batokok is made from dried beef or buffalo meat, which offers a distinct taste that differentiates it from the usual dendeng. There are also a number of restaurants that offer Sawahlunto Soups.

Sawahlunto is also known for Kerupuk Kubang, crackers made from tempe (fermented soy beans) which can be found in several stores across the town.

The Museum provides various souvenirs which can be purchased as mementos of your visit. If you wish to learn more about the museum and the mining history of Sawahlunto, there are a number of books available.

Here are some of the accommodation options available in Sawahlunto:

  • Hotel Parai City Garden, Jl. Bagindo Azischan Sawahlunto Phone
  • Hotel Ombilin Heritage, Jl. M. Yamin Pasar Remaja, Lembah Segar
  • Hotel Laura, Jl. Ahmad Yani No.210
  • Wisma I Pemko Sawahlunto, Jl. Bagindo Azis Chan, Lembah Segar
  • Wisma Mutiara, Jl. Prof. M. Yamin, SH Talawi
  • Mess Arga, Jl. Abdul Rahman Saringan, Barangin

This is the best place to observe the coal mining history of Sawahlunto. Within the museum, you can learn the long history of the central kitchen and other supporting facilities. There is also an audiovisual room where you can watch a documentary video on the history of coal mining here and watch photographic documentation of coal mining activities of the time.

Within the 2,300 square meters museum you can also see an array of cooking equipment such as the 4 meter tall steam generator, a number of cooking pots which are 132cm in diameter and 62cm in height, various large pans, and many others.

Aside from the main building which is the central kitchen, there are also several other supporting buildings that include the warehouse for fresh food supplies, the rice warehouse, a Steam Generator, Chimney Tower, Ice Factory, health clinic, cooperative office, Rice Grinding facility, the  house of the Head of the Warehouse, a guard post, a slaughter house, and others.

Not too far from the Goedang Ransoem Museum is a railway museum, remnants of the mines era, Lubang Mbah Suro (the first coal mining site in Sawahlunto), as well as the Ombilin Mines Training College (OMTC).


Goedang Ransoem Museum is approximately 94Km or about 2 hours’ drive from Padang, capital of West Sumatra. If you prefer to use public transportation, you can take the inter-city bus from Padang’s Air Pacah Terminal.

If you are planning to visit in groups, you can contact the Office of Tourism and Culture of Sawahlunto who can provide bus transportation to the Museum.

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