The name Grassimuseum derives from Franz Dominic Grassi, a merchant of italian heritage living in Leipzig in the third generation. In his testament he left Leipzig a fortune of some two million marks, giving the city the opportunity to provide a variety of building projects.
From 1892 until 1895 the old Grassimuseum was constructed at the Königsplatz (King´s Place, by now Wilhelm-Leuschner-Place). Originally, the building accommodated the Museum of Ethnology and the Museum for Decorative Arts, whereas today the public library of Leipzig is located here.
Franz Dominic Grassi came from a central Italian merchant family. His grandfather, an émigré from Lucca, and his father, Leipzig-born Joseph Peter Grassi, traded in silk and commodities and conducted exchange and bill transactions.
In his youth, Franz Dominic Grassi travelled abroad while at the same time serving a commercial apprenticeship; he also spent an extended sojourn in London. In 1829, he became a citizen of Leipzig, and here founded a trading company for Russian products, indigo dye and tropical fruits.
Under the supervision of municipal architect Hubert Ritter, the Grassi Museum was built between 1925 and 1929 to plans by the architects Zweck and Voigt. Both its inner courts and the adjacent park-like Alter Johannisfriedhof (Old St John’s Cemetery) create a unique cultural attraction and a place of rest and relaxation at the eastern edge of the inner city.