Housing some 140,000 works of art, the Department of Prints, Drawings and Photographs is nationally recognized for the breadth and depth of its collections as well as the flair and scholarship of its exhibitions. The Department presents rotating installations of its vast holdings in the Berman and Stieglitz Galleries on the Museum's ground floor and the Eglin Gallery on the first floor. Individual works are also on view in the Museum's permanent collection galleries.
The Museum's large and diverse collection of Old Master prints and drawings doubled in size in 1984-5 when, through the generosity of Muriel and the late Philip I. Berman, some 2,500 drawings and 42,000 prints by European masters of the 16th through 19th centuries were acquired from The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Another important holding, the Ars Medica Collection, currently comprised of over 2,500 prints, drawings, photographs and rare books housed in the department, offers a remarkable view of the complex interrelationships between the worlds of medicine, pharmacy, public health and the visual arts. The Ars Medica Collection was developed with the handsome support of a series of grants from the Philadelphia pharmaceutical firm SmithKline Beecham, and also includes an important group of prints, posters and ephemera given by William H. Helfand.
The Museum's permanent collections are also distinguished by extensive groups of prints by American artists of the Depression era, as well as European and American modernist masterpieces by Picasso, Duchamp, Léger, and others, from the collections of A.E. Gallatin and Walter and Louise Arensberg. Also notable are prints by German Expressionist artists, including Wassily Kandinsky, Max Beckmann and Käthe Kollwitz, and prints and drawings by 20th-century Mexican masters Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, among others.
Since 1979, a series of grants from the Hunt Corporation, a Philadelphia-based manufacturer and distributor of art/craft and office products, has enabled the Museum to add adventurous contemporary works on paper to its collections, including pieces by John Cage, Sherrie Levine, Raymond Pettibon, Judy Pfaff, Gerhard Richter, Edward Ruscha, Alison Saar and William Wegman. Other recent and notable acquisitions range from four major drawings by Georgia O'Keeffe to significant groups of photographs by Joseph Sudek, Robert Adams and Harry Callahan.
Over the past decade, the Department has organized a diverse array of ambitious exhibitions, including Paul Cézanne: Two Sketchbooks (1989), The Picture of Health: Images of Medicine and Pharmacy from the William H. Helfand Collection (1991), Tina Modotti: Photographs (1995), India: A Celebration of Independence (1997), Paris in the 1890s: Painters' Prints in the Age of Bonnard, Vuillard, and Toulouse-Lautrec (1998), and Mad for Modernism: Earl Horter and His Collection (1999).