Episode 13: The Momus

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If you’ve wandered the Vrijthof you may have spotted a building with a jolly jester on top – that would be Momus! The Momus building is only one part of the Momus Society’s history so join us this week as we talk about the group and their previous headquarters.

The first photo here (top) shows members of the Momus Society in c. 1925 posing for a group picture ( (c) RHCL). Members here are (from left to right) GH Lambooij, Th. Bonnemeijer, J. Vos SR, Pichot de Plessis, A. van Rijen, CA Smeets; chairman, E. Motke, J. Eberhard, Ch. Kemmerling, A. Cannegieter and ME Hollman.

Below this photograph is an illustration of the Carnaval parade of 1841 which was allowed to take place after almost ten years of no Carnaval ( (c) RHCL)! The parade for this Carnaval was organised by the Momus Society with the theme Charles V’s ‘Happy Entry’ in 1520 ( (c) RHCL).

The Momus Society continued to participate in parades and a 1891 float from the society’s ‘Velocipède-club’ (bicycle club) can be seen above (top left; (c) RHCL). Above right is a drawing of a traditional costume used in an earlier parade organised by the Society, c. 1865 ( (c) RHCL).

Apart from it’s more frivolous cultural endeavours, the Momus Society also had charitable intentions and ran a soup kitchen for the poor, including Belgian refugees, from 1846 to 1919 ((c) RHCL). In the bottom left photograph you can see the exterior fo the soup cookery in c. 1918 ( (c) RHCL), and in the bottom right photograph is the interior in c. 1900 – 1902 ( (c) RHCL).

Before building the Momus headquarters we know now on the Vrijthof, the first meetings of the Society were held at the Sint Pieter Cafe, In de Roode Hen, which was run by one Schreinemakers at the end of 1839 (top left; c. 1900 – 1910, (c) RHCL). While the Momus Society was using this spot from 1846, they did not buy the building until 1878 and they weren’t renovated until 1883 – the top right image shows an illustration of the interior in 1884 (J. van Hoof, (c) RHCL).

The building’s interior was lavishly decorated, particularly for special occasions. In the bottom left photograph you can see the decorations and mirror paintings for the 9×11 + 1 year anniversary of Momus in 1938 ( (c) RHCL). In the bottom right photograph you can see the later interior decoration on 27/4/1977 ( (c) RHCL).

The image above shows the facade of the Momus building without it’s current terrace, but with it’s dimensions featuring the “crazy number’ eleven – the facade is eleven meters wide and the hall eleven meters deep ( (c. 1884 – 1885, (c) RHCL)!

While it existed, the Momus Society continued to provide entertainment and cultural activities for its members and Maastricht. In the top left is a photograph of the theatre department of the Society in “Le bourgeois gentilhomme” by the French writer Molière but retitled “Den ierzuchtigen burger” (1862, (c) RHCL). The group did not perform with costumes and settings as they were when the play was written but adapted them for contemporary times – gentlemen with top hats, modern French uniforms etc. ( (c) RHCL).

The Society also had different clubs including the aforementioned Velocipède-club pictured above (top right) in c. 1900 – 1910 ( (c) RHCL). Children were also included in some Momus events and in the lower left photograph you can see a group participating in the Children’s Fair at the Momus on 2/2/1913 ( (c) RHCL).

An iconic remnant of the Momus Society which is still in use today for Carnaval, the Momus Canon (momuskanon) is pictured above (bottom right) being lit in 1934 ( (c) RHCL).

Above (top left) is the more ‘disco’ interior of the Momus building in 1982, featuring a podium for a DJ ( (c) Maastrichts Silhouet vol. 8). Top right ( (c) RHCL) and bottom ( (c) RHCL) you can see the exterior of the building as it stood in 1958 with a covered terrace and outdoor seating looking onto the Vrijthof.

This is the Momus building as it stands today in 2020, ready to reopen after being closed due to Covid-19 (28/5/2020, (c) Katrina Marshall).

As always, if you have something you have always wanted to know about Maastricht or wanted to ask a local, please contact us through social media or our website and we will do our best to answer your questions in future episodes!