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Municipal Museum

A city’s history, a region’s past…

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Objects on display at the Municipal Museum- place Licourt 25 - 4040 Herstal
© City of Herstal - Ecrido - service Graphic Design • Web • Publications Office

Presenting the City of Herstal.
Photo Gallery.
Overview of the Municipal Museum.


Whether you are taking a stroll on the banks of the Albert Canal, eager for a cultural trip for the family, or looking for an enriching extracurricular activity, an astonishing discovery of Herstal’s heritage is waiting for you at the Municipal Museum.

Housed in a remarkably conserved seventeenth-century middle-class residence, the Museum reflects an often glorious past, from prehistoric times up to the twenty-first century. Each room retraces a part of its history.

In 2009, the Museum expanded and inaugurated a new space, entirely consecrated to the ninth art: Michel Greg, the famous father of Achille Talon, entered the museum.

A 350-year-old setting

An inheritance from the seventeenth century, the Lovinfosse house is located on Place Licourt, beside other historic buildings: the Notre-Dame Church, the tower called “Pépin” (Seed), and several lovely middle-class houses. More than just a backdrop, this middle-class residence built in 1664 constitutes a true piece of the permanent exhibition. Having remained for over two centuries at the hands of the descendants of a single family, it has been on the historical register both for its interior and exterior since 1932. This destiny allowed for the conservation of architectural elements that characterize construction in the Meuse region. The interior layout translates the ease and the search for comfort typical of middle-class buildings of our regions: oak floors, imposing fireplaces decorated with earthenware from Coronmeuse, stained glass framed with lead and large slabs of blue stone from Dinant.

Since 1972, the house has featured the museum’s collections, over 11,000 objects that trace back the different aspects of life in Herstal across the centuries.

From prehistory to the 21st century - 9,000 years of history

  • From the Neolithic Age to the Gallo-Romans: fertile lands and means of communication.
Archaeological digs carried out in the 1960s revealed fragments of decorated ceramics, but also of tools and weapons made of flint, characteristic of the first farmers: the Omaliens, who settled around the 7th millennium B.C. Once settlement had begun, different peoples, such as the Urnfield culture and later the Romans, would choose this land as their home.

During the Roman Period, Herstal occupied a privileged location at the crossing of two important roads, one linking Tongeren with Trèves and crossing the Meuse at the height of Jupille, the other going along the Meuse up to Maastricht and joining Aix, then Cologne.

The proximity of important land roads and waterways would allow the development of Herstal up to the present day.

  • During the Middle Ages, a historic destiny is drawn out.
Numerous tombs of Frank warriors dating back to the seventh century, one of which has been entirely reconstructed at the museum, attest to the increasing Germanic occupation from the fourth century on.

Near Tongeren and Maastricht, capitals of the diocese of Liège, Herstal occupied a strategic position.

With the dynasty of the Pippinids under Charles Martel, in 722 the name of Heristal appeared for the first time on a diploma.

Then, under Charlemagne (circa 740-814), Herstal definitively came out of the shadows. No one knows if he was really born in La Préalle, but it is certain that he made Herstal his favorite residence.

A palace, in reality a crown farm resembling instead a large fortified farm, welcomed the emperor and his court during his frequent stays between 770 and 784. The exact location is not known, though it is thought to have been situated near the current Church of La Licourt. At that time, Herstal played a role in the political foreground and proved itself as the true capital of the empire. The glory that Charlemagne conferred to Herstal has crossed across centuries and shines through even today, in our folklore. Charlemagne, sacred emperor in the year 800, and also Saint Lambert, are still emblems.

The mystery of the Caroloingian palace remains intact. An archaelogical evaluation slated for the next few months on the grounds in front of the museum should permit, if not the removal of the veil from a thousand-year-old historical enigma, then the enrichment of our knowledge of Herstal’s history.

  • From the eighteenth century to the industrial era, a city of iron and coal.
Herstal is a land of factories, of foundries, of hardware shops.

In the eighteenth century, certain artisanal trades, such as clock-making and the earthenware industry of Cornonmeuse, were developing. But up to the 1960s, the key sectors of Herstal’s economy were the exploitation of coal and gunsmithing. Very artisanal for a long time, these activities intensified and would end up becoming industrialized towards the end of the nineteenth century. This handed-down heritage tells of the harsh working conditions and the day-to-day life of the men, but also of the women and children exploited in mines and in factories.

Work is health, but for that one must be paid: this improvised slogan was changed at the occasion of the first demonstration of the “workers of the National Factory, or Fabric Nationale (FN).” The strike of the women of the FN in February 1966 would see an international impact. United and determined, these factory women, passed down to posterity, demanded the application of the principle “Equal pay for equal work!”

Industrialization would make Herstal what it is today, a heavily populated city, with 38,000 residents in 2009 as opposed to 5,340 residents in 1812, for downtown Herstal and a landscape of slag heaps and factories, a city of iron and coal.

Without forgetting the quality mechanics that with the famous “demoiselles” of Herstal made our factories renowned in the pre-war period. Gillet, FN and Saroléa motorcycles, as well as a chainless bicycle, today build visitor satisfaction and the museum’s reputation.

High technology is also illustrated by a Boeing Turbine, from the Techspace Aero factory, given to the museum in 2001.

And in this tumult, artistic life

Whether they served prince-bishops and kings, like Jehotte, engraver, metalworker, and sculptor, or more simply nature like the painter Richard Heintz, or machines with Fernand Steven, these artists of Herstal have enjoyed national, even international, recognition.
Local writers are not left behind. Wallonian literature shined with authors such as Henri Forir (1784-1862), Guillaume Delarge (1829-1885), Jean Lejeune (known as Lamoureux), the gunsmith Jean Dessard, Michel Duchatto, etc., but also in French literature, notably with René Hénoumont.

With the diversity of the artistic works presented in the museum, a talent of the ninth art was missing.
And Greg was called for. A true comic book monster, he has worked with the biggest talents, Hergé and Franquin.

The famous father of Achille Talon grew up in Herstal, behind the museum.

There, he frequented the Athénée Royal and there, he created his first newspaper, called Journal de Nouny, with Robert Pire.
Very early on, he juggled the different aspects of the comic book world, wearing multiple hats: editor, illustrator, printer, and distributor. He would repeat this attitude throughout his career: he would be editor-in-chief of the Tintin magazine. He would sign hundreds of scripts for Dany, Eddy Paape, Hermann, Tibet, Cuvellier, he would collaborate with Mittéi and Tilleux, and he would create his own studio at Etterbeek, where he would meet with Robert Pire, Dupa, Dany, Vicq, bob De Groot, Turk, Hermann, Jean van Hamme, Claude Auclair, Derib, Wasterlain and many others, as many collaborations as the museum wishes to study and exhibit in the years to come.

Municipal Museum

E-mail: bXVzZWVjb21tdW5hbC5oZXJzdGFsQHRlbGVkaXNuZXQuYmU=

Royal Association “Friends of the Herstal Museum” Nonprofit Organization

The nonprofit Organization Friends of the Herstal Museum works with the mission of coordinating and managing purchases and gifts as well as historical research related to the Municipal Museum, with which it collaborates during numerous activities.

It also publishes a bi-monthly bulletin, available at the price of 2.50€. Annual membership to the organization is set at 10.00€ and includes five bulletins and invitations to the events that the nonprofit organizes. Reception of the public.

enveloppe.png Contact

Madame Marcella Colle, Présidente
Madame Yvonne Smeers, Secrétaire

Tel. : 04 240 65 15 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              04 240 65 15      end_of_the_skype_highlighting