Adityawarman Museum : The History And Culture Of The Minangkabau

The Adityawarman Museum in Padang, capital of West Sumatra, is a “must visit” when you plan to spend your holidays in this beautiful province, since the Museum has on display the most comprehensive collection on the history and culture of the Minangkabau, the ethnic group that inhabits this region.

Located in the heart of the city at Jalan Diponegoro, the Museum is also a center for research and has on hand educators, conservators, and librarians. For this reason, the Museum is well frequented not only by tourists but also by students and researchers who wish to immerse themselves in the Minangkabau culture.

Here you will find explanations about the Minangkabau “adat” or tradition, its social system as well as material expressions including traditional costumes, musical instruments, replicas of traditional food, legacies of Minangkabau kings, royal accessories, a miniature “rumah gadang” or grand residence, all the way to clarifications on their kinship system.

Among the 5,781 items displayed here, most interesting are the royal legacies like the  king’s keris (dagger), regalia, royal carriage, as well the bridal chair complete with fully decorated background as in the Minangkabau tradition.

The Adityawarman Museum, West Sumatra
The Adityawarman Museum, West Sumatra (Source :

Another  point of interest is the divisions and usage of rooms in the grand residence or rumah gadang,  as partitioned in days gone by. Formerly, unmarried Minang boys were not allowed to stay with their parents, but they lived in a “surau” or boarding house where they were taught the Al Qur’an and the teachings of the Muslim religion as well as the art of self defense, the pencak silat.

Girls, on the other hand, are taught to become good mothers. The Minangkabau kinship system differs from most other Indonesian ethnic groups, since the Minangkabau follow the matrilineal kinship, where inheritance of family assets such as land and house pass down the female line rather than through male offsprings.

From their infancy girls are, therefore, taught how to cook, weave, and the oral traditions of “pantun” or rhymies, to instil traditional values and to pass these on to their children. Minang children, in general must study the Qur’an and religious values, they must moreover be able to work in field and in business.

Built in 1974,  the Adityawarman Museum was officially opened on 18 March 1977 by then Minister for Education, Prof. Dr. Syarif Thayeb. The museum covers an entire 2.6 hectares area. The building is a specific Minang traditional house called bagonjong or baanjuang, and takes up some 2,854 square meters space. While the name Adityawarman is taken from an important Minangkabau king of the Pagaruyuang Dynasty.


Minangkabau food, or more popularly known as Padang food you can certainly find all over the city.  But you should also taste some other specialties not found elsewhere: Padang restaurants normallys display all the food in the shop window. Diners indicate what they want, then the different plates are brought to the table. Waiters are usually skilled in carrying ten to twelve plates on both arms all at once.

Each plate may contain two or three pieces of chicken, for example,  but you will be charged only for the food you actually consume.

Es Durian Ganti Nan Lamo Padang

Jl. Pulau Karam No. 103 B, Padang

Jl. HOS Cokroaminoto No 31B, Padang

This place is a culinary icon of Padang established since the 1960s. Besides the favorite delicious durian ice cream, other items on the menu are empek-empek, beef soup with rice, gado-gado, and  Padang satay.

Rumah Makan Pagi Sore

Jalan Pondok No.143 Padang (Kampung Cino)

This is one of the oldest restaurants in Padang that opened since 1947.  Its main attraction is the criscpy small chilcken which are soft and small. The chicks selected are no older than 30-40 days. Other items on the menu worth tasting are fishhead curry, gado-gado, barbecued fish, rendang, tauco curry, sayur anyang,  and plenty more. Almost all dishes are cooked the traditional way over a wood fire and using fresihly picked natural ingredients.

Rumah Makan Lamun

Jl. S. Parman No. 232A Ulak Karang

This is a popular restaurant in Padang that offers all kinds of Minang food served international style, meaning, you will be served only the food on the one plate you ordered. Your best bet here are rendang, ayam pop (braised chicken), fried chicken, all kinds of curries, cryspy fried beef, fried chicken lungs, gado gado (Indonesian salad) and more.

Waroeng Kito

Jl.M.H Thamrin No.3, Padang

This restaurant serves Indonesian and Asian food at reasonable prices. Its speciality are Chinese cap cay, chicken rice and Hongkong noodles, crispy chicken fried in coconut oil and more.

Padang has a large variety of shops selling souvenirs or foodstuffs to bring home.

For special Minangkabau woven textiles, try :

Toko Silungkang Pandaisikek at Jalan Sudirman No. 5 in Padang city.

Toko Cinderamata Ucok, or Ucok’s souvenir shop sells Minang snacks and all kinds of souvenirs. The address is at Jalan Imam Bonjol No. 16.

If you are looking specially for various Minang snacks to bring home for friends and family, do go to Toko Kripik Balado Shirley at Jalan Gereja No. 36, Padang. Or otherwise to Toko Kripik Balado Christine Hakim at Jalan Nipah No. 38, or Toko Mahkota at Jalan Prof. Hamka No. 137.

Padang has many hotels and accommodation facilities available.

Even before entering the Museum, you will see in front of the Museum two constructions on each  side. These are typical rice barns, called rangkiang. Rice barns are indeed usually placed in front of the house.  Here you will also find a miniature buffalo drawn carriage, a horse drawn carriage, as well as an aircraft from the Second World War. Since the front garden is wide and filled with shady trees, it is a favorite place for people to stroll around.

The Adityawarman Museum collection is devided into ten themes. These are: Geology and Geography, Biology, Ethnography, Archaeology, History, Numismatics and Heraldry, Philology, Ceramics, Arts and Technology. These are all arranged according to timelines in history to facilitiate visitors to follow sequences.

Besides collections on the Minangkabau culture from the main island of Sumatra, there are also ollections of the island of Mentawai, which forms part of the province of West Sumatra, however,  Mentawai culture is very different from that of the Minangkabau and bolth are hardly linked with one another.

All items on display have their own explanations  but there are also guides available should you need more information.

Opening hours of the Museum are:

Tuesday - Thursday : 08.00 hrs - 16.00 hrs. West Indonesia Time

Fridays            : 08.00 hrs - 16.00 hrs. West Indonesia Time

Mondays            : Display halls Closed

Other attractions around Padang that are worth a visit are: the Air Manis Beach,  Padang Beach, the Siti Nurbaya bridge, the Pasir Jambak beach, Caroline beach, Nirwana beach,  Lubuk Minturun Swimming pool , or go up the Sitinjau Lauik hill to get a panoramic view of Padang city from a vantage point.


Being right in the city center,  at Jalan Diponegoro no. 10, you can visit the Museum and nearby beaches and other tourist areas by taxi, or public transport right from your hotel.



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