The Nias Heritage Museum not only collects and preserves the cultural heritage of Nias, but also conducts research. Because many visiting scholars base themselves at the museum it has become something of a hub for Nias related scientific research.  Over the years the museum have assisted and facilitated numerous research projects.

Research by the Museum


Pastor Johannes has lived on Nias since 1971.

In the early days of the  Nias Heritage Foundations  a lot of knowledge about Nias was gathered from the personal notes and research done by Pastor Johannes since his arrival in 1971. Pastor Johannes also had access to a lot of writings by his predecessors on Nias. German missionaries took careful notes and wrote many letters and articles about life on the island. Over the years Pastor Johannes learned the local Nias language and worked together with many people to record information about cultural practises on the island. Today Pastor Johannes is one of the most knowledgeable scholars of Nias culture and history. His research has been published in several languages in books, magazines and scientific journals both in Indonesia and overseas. His research has resulted in 18 books and numerous articles about Nias culture and history.


Musem director Nata'aluhi Duha during visit to a remote community.

Local staff at the Museum Pusaka Nias have also been involved in research and publications. Museum Director Nataluhi Duha in particular has collaborated in the writing of many articles and books. In 2005 he published a book the about the background of Nias Traditional Houses and indigenous villages , called “OMO NIHA – Land boat on the swaying island”.

Other research by both foreign and local scholars has been published by the Museum. Learn more about our published books here.

Many foreign academics have conducted research on Nias. Many of them also cooperate with the museum in various ways. The Museum aims to support Nias related research in any way it can. Some successful cooperation's include;

Traditional Architecture

Prof. Viaro Alain and Arlette M. Ziegler from Switzerland have traveled extensively on Nias since 1977 in order to conduct research about Nias architecture and culture. Their work has resulted in many academic articles in several languages, book chapters and the book “Traditional architecture of Nias Island” which was published in 1993. Prof Viaro also compiled the most complete bibliography of Nias related research, available here.


Prof. Alain Viaro and his wife Arlette Ziegler has traveled widely across Nias during their research into Nias culture and architecture.

Dr. Erich Lehner , Dr. Ulrike Herbig  and Dr. Petra Gruber of T.U. University- Austria also conducted research about Nias traditional architecture resulting in the book “Traditional Architecture and art on Nias, Indonesia”.

Archaeological Excavations

In 1999 the museum also facilitated the first archaeological excavation on Nias in collaboration with the University of Airlangga University in Surabaya. The excavations took place in Tögindrawa cave, near Gunungsitoli and looked for signs of human habitation. In 2005 there were additional joint excavations by the Archaeological Institute of Medan, the French Archaeological Research Centre together with the Research Center for Archaeology in Jakarta. This study found evidence that the cave has been inhabited by early humans starting 12,000 years ago.

Dating of megalith stones

Prof. Dr. Bonatz from the Wilhelm Humbold University in Berlin, Germany and Yves Battais from France collaborated with the museum in research about determining the age of various megaliths on Nias.


Museum staff recording data about megaliths in South Nias

Ethnic origins of Nias people

From 2002 - 2003 Prof. Dr. Ingo Kennerknecht from the Institute of Human Genetics Westfälische Wilhelms Universität Münster, Germany conducted extensive DNA research on Nias. The objective was to determine the origins of Nias people. Their findings show that that Nias people are closely related to some people in Taiwan and parts of the Philippines. This research was made in cooperation with the Nias Heritage Museum, the Nias regency health department and Dr. Mannis van Oven.

Facilitating research

Over the years many Indonesian and International master and doctoral students have visited the Museum. Our helpful and knowledgeable staff is always willing to assist anyone interested in Nias. The Museum is well equipped to help academics with their research and practical arrangements. Some academics visit for a day, others have been staying at the museum for weeks and even months.  


Students, academics and researchers from various countries often visit the Nias Heritage Museum

Please contact us if you plan to conduct research on Nias to discuss how we can assist you.



Publikasi_1b_Buku Asal usul Masyarakat Nias

ASAL USUL MASYARAKAT NIAS - SUATU INTERPRETASI. The origins of the people of Nias, an Interpretation. Author P. Johannes Hämmerle. (Indonesian)

Publikasi_2b_Buku Omo Niha

OMO NIHA - PERAHU DARAT DI PUALU BEGOYANG. Omo Niha – Land boat on the swaying island. Author Nata'alui Duha. (Indonesian)


TRADITIONAL ARCHITECTURE OF NIAS ISLAND. Author Alain Viar dan Arlette Ziegler. (English)


TRADITIONAL ARCHITECTURE AND ART ON NIAS, INDONESIA. Editor Petra Gruber dan Ulrike Herbig. (English)


NIAS - EINE EIGENE WELT. Nias - a separate world. Author P. Johannes Hämmerle. (German)


SOCIETY AND EXCHANGE IN NIAS. Author Andrew Beatty. (English)


TURIA MAZINÖ. Editor P. Johannes Hämmerle. (Available in Nias and Indonesian)


LAWAENDRÖNA - Lawaendröna - seeker of eternal life of the moon. Author P. Johannes Hämmerle. (Available in Indonesian and German)



© Yayasan Pusaka Nias 2017. Designed & Edited by Björn Svensson & Shanti Fowler