For 30 years, a small team has been individually cataloguing one of the world's greatest collections of works on paper.
In April 2021, the last of the two million prints was described and measured, and its production date and the names of the printmakers, designers and publishers added to the database. Now, for the first time, the British Museum's Department of Prints and Drawings’ astonishing collection of 500,000 records is available to a global audience on the British Museum's Collection online. You can search by artist or to browse the collection, simply search for 'print' or 'drawing' and filter your search from there.
Spanning 600 years, the collection of the British Museum's Department of Prints and Drawings includes holdings by the greatest graphic artists, from Dürer to Rembrandt and from Michelangelo to Picasso. The completion of the project to digitise the collection marks an extraordinary milestone in the study of prints and drawings.
This exhibition celebrates the completion of the catalogue and showcases the extraordinary variety of printmaking which, until the popularisation of photography in the mid-1800s, was the only visual means of mass communication. Subject matters range from new fashions from Paris to a Cherokee delegation visiting Georgian London, while unusual formats of prints on view include toys, postcards and fans, highlighting the myriad applications and functions of the printed image.