The Pusaka Nias Museum in the town of Gunung Sitoli, North Nias, is dedicated to the “Ono Niha,” or the People of Nias, and exhibits a large collection of artifacts related to the history and ancient culture of Nias Island in North Sumatra.
The Museum stands on two hectares of land, and displays an array of over 6,500 historical objects from Nias tribes, including jewellery, household items, weapons, traditional musical instruments and ancient megalithic statues.
In 1972, a Catholic missionary named Father Johannes M. Hammerle began collecting cultural objects, art and history of the people of Nias. Over time, the collection grew, and he meticulously recorded the name and use of each of these. Father Johannes later proposed to the Council of the Order of Capuchin Province that they establish a museum of these items.
The plan for the Nias Heritage Museum faced many obstacles, due to the lack of knowledge in the procedures and requirements. Finally, in 1991, with the help of the Nusantara Jaya Foundation, and of course Father Johannes himself, the Museum was finally established. The Nias Heritage Museum, Museum Pusaka Nias, is located in Gunung Sitoli, in North Nias and is the island’s only museum.
The Museum is divided into five main pavilions where visitors can browse through the past lives, habits and goals of the Ono Niha. Every object on display comes with a detailed description in both English and Bahasa Indonesia to explain its meaning, history and function. There is also a mini zoo housing numerous species of rare animals, and a garden for the cultivation of unique Nias flora, which were once used in traditional medicine. A library holding hundreds of books as well as audio-visual aids is also available for both students and the general public to get to know and explore more about the people of Nias and their culture.
Overall, the aim of the museum is to raise public awareness and facilitate the growth of love for Nias Culture, and encourage people to recognize, appreciate, and develop knowledge, and use it as a medium of education and reflection on modern civilizations.
Pavilion I presents a variety of artifacts relating to the personal lives and religious beliefs of the Ono Niha.
Pavilion II shows a replica of a traditional Nias house, adorned with intricate carvings and monuments that portray the lives of Niasans of high status. Other objects related to status such as jewellery and other precious goods can also be found here, as well as kitchen appliances and equipment made of wood, stone and ceramic. Pavilion II also holds a selection of “bola nafo,” which are intricately designed bag-shaped handicraft, native to West Nias. One of these measures 3 by 3.5 meters, and is the largest recorded bola nafo in Indonesia.
Pavilion III displays objects to do with the daily life and routine activities of the Ono Niha. These include shelters, household technology, art, carpentry and weapons used for hunting.
Pavilion IV is dedicated to important events from the history of Nias immortalized in stone. Why stone? Because, as the Niasans say; stone does not change, stone remains in its place, stone is beautiful and lives forever.
Pavilion V is used for temporary exhibitions, lectures, audio-visuals and discussions.
Two meeting halls are available for rent, built in the style of traditional Nias houses with stone walls and curved, wooden roofs. Visitors are also provided with the opportunity to live in custom, tribal homes for a small nightly fee. A simple cafeteria is positioned on the waterfront outside the museum, facing out to the rocky beach.
Admission fee into the museum is Rp10,000 for adults, Rp5,000 for children, and Rp40,000 for foreign tourists. Photography within the museum is forbidden.
NIAS HERITAGE MUSEUM
Jl. Yos Sudarso 134-A
Gunung Sitoli 22 812
Nias, North Sumatra
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