The Summer Palace in Greiz, erected between 1769 and 1779, is considered one of the earliest examples of Neoclassical architecture in Thuringia. Surrounding it is the Greiz Landscape Park, whose history goes back to around 1650. The German Federal Government awarded the status “of national significance” on both the Summer Palace and Park in 2009.
Until the First World War the Summer Palace served as summer residence for the princes of the elder line of the Reuss dynasty. In 1922 a settlement was reached with the House of Reuss to establish a new art museum in the Summer Palace in Greiz, to be called the “Foundation of the Elder Line of the House of Reuss”. Ever since then, the Summer Palace has housed the art treasures of the State Collection of Books and Engravings at Greiz, and since 1975 the Greiz Satiricum as well, a collection of caricatures of national importance.
Most of the book collection stems from plans made around 1747 by Count Heinrich XI von Obergreiz (1722–1800, attained princely status in 1778). The princely engravings collection includes some 7,000 battle diagrams, maps and city views as well as numerous prints. The State Collection owes the most valuable works in its engravings collection to the estate of Princess Elizabeth of England (1770–1840). Particularly worthy of note among the thousands of copperplate engravings are some 900 English mezzotints, more than half of which were executed after portraits by famous master Joshua Reynolds. Since the founding of the State Collection of Books and Engravings in Greiz, it has added a series of new acquisitions to its extensive library and graphic art holdings, including a Chodowiecki collection, several drawings and a large number of depictions of the “danse macabre” motif.
Founded in 1975, the Satiricum is a special collection of contemporary caricatures and drawings published in the former East German press. With nearly 12,000 sheets, it is one of the foremost museums of caricatures. From 1980 to 1990 six biennials on caricature in the former German Democratic Republic took place at the Greiz Summer Palace. This tradition has been carried on since 1994 as the nationwide triennial “Caricature, Cartoon and Comic Drawing”.
In the Garden Salon and on the bel étage, temporary exhibitions are regularly mounted by the State Collection of Books and Engravings and the Satiricum. Together with the Banquet Hall, the Garden Salon is also a popular setting for summer concerts, readings and other cultural events.