The Griebel Gartenzwerge Museum
The Griebel Factory was founded by our distant German relation, Philipp Griebel, in the small town of Gräfenroda, Germany in 1874. The factory specialized in decorative ceramics, initially in the form of wall-mounted animal busts with cast lead horns. Griebel’s whimsical ingenuity merged with regional folk imagination in 1890, resulting in his invention of the ceramic garden gnome, or Gartenzwerge. The popularity and demand of the gnomes escalated to become the factory’s primary product, supplying gardens throughout Germany and beyond its borders. Today the Gartenzwerge Museum is built into the original factory, which has been handed down in the family, currently operated by Reinhold Griebel. At the museum, one can experience the initial factory molds and tools, as well as scores of gnomes and ceramic beasts grouped in fantastic dioramas. As one of the final stops on the tour, the dark and cluttered office of Philipp Griebel remains untouched, his papers and models arranged as if for his return.