For many centuries the region around Liège has been important for the manufacture of small arms. The principal works is now that of Fabrique National, established at Herstal, 6 km to the north in 1889, which is entered through a spectacular gateway built in 1890, but is not open to visitors.
The Musée d’Armes was established in 1885 by the arms manufacturer Pierre-Joseph Lemille, and has always been accommodated in Le Grand Curtius, a neo-classical building of 1776, the seat of the local prefecture during the period of French rule between 1794 and 1814 and subsequently a private residence. The museum was originally intended for viewing by professionals in the armaments trade who were visiting manufacturers in Liège, but since the 1960s its nature has changed and its interpretation is now directed towards the general public. Its collection of small arms is one of the largest in Europe, and covers all historical periods and most parts of the world. It is divided into civilian and military sections. Many of the items in the collection can be seen on the Internet. The Musée d’Armes shares the Curtius mansion with other municipal museums, and its galleries were extensively refurbished in 2009.<//span>