The prints collection, with more than 6,000 examples, is one of the largest collections in the Museum. Old Master prints constitute about three-quarters of the collection, which ranges from the 15th century – shortly after the dawn of printing in the Western world – to the 21st century.
Among the many complete series of graphics are masterpieces by Albrecht Dürer, Francisco Goya, William Blake, Honoré Daumier, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Modern graphic works of note include ones by Pierre Bonnard, Paul Gauguin, Wassily Kandinsky, Edouard Manet and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
To protect them from deterioration by light, prints, drawings and photographs are exhibited for limited amounts of time.
Since its founding in 1978, the Print Society has purchased more than 60 modern prints as gifts to the Museum and has commissioned 23 limited editions from contemporary graphic artists. The Print Society at the Nelson-Atkins provides Museum members with opportunities to study the collection of graphic work and offers encouragement and assistance to beginning and establishing collectors.