The founder of this museum was GH Von Vaber, a Dutch German journalist and writer of Oud Soerabaia and Niew Soerabaia that was born in 1899 and died in Surabaya in 1955. He found Stedelijk Historisch Museum (City Historical Museum), on May 6th 1933. On October 20 1934, East Java Province Museum was established and Von Vaber was appointed to be the chairman. In 1949, those two museums were merged into one as Universeel Cultureel Centrum voor Volksontwikkeling (Center of Public Education for Culture Institution) in Surabaya. Locals called this Von Vaber Museum that was located in Jl. Simpang Surabaya, now SMA Trimurti.
The museum was then names as Mpu Tantular Museum and located in Jalan Pemuda Surabaya and then moved to Taman Mayangkara on 1977, as the collections number grow, the Govt then built a new building in Sidoarjo that covers 3.5 hectares that was officially operated on May 2004.
The Museum has wide range of collections from old primitive equipment from pre historic era, weapons, carvings, traditional ceremony instruments, arts, transportation and communication, ceramics and numismatic.
The name of the museum was taken from a poet of East Java in the mid of 14th century from Majapahit Kingdom. This man is popular for his Arjuna Wijaya and Sutasoma, where there is “Bhineka Tunggal Ika” or “Unity in Diversity” that is used as Indonesian Motto.
Mpe means Ibu or mother that serves as the axe of every movement and philosophy, and Tantular means unaffected, unchanging to reach eternal life.