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Catalogues of the Prints, Drawings, Paintings & Photographs Collections


William Morris, design for Acanthus wallpaper, 1874. Museum Number: Circ.297-1955

The V&A’s Word & Image Department's holdings include some 750,000 prints, drawings, paintings and photographs. Some items are on display or on loan to other institutions, while the rest of the collection can be viewed in the Museum’s « Prints & Drawings Study Room ».

The Study Room Catalogues

The prime sources of information for the vast majority of prints, drawings, paintings and photographs are a range of loose-leaf catalogues, bound volumes and card indexes. These catalogues include entries for most acquisitions up to 1986, plus some 50% of those from 1987 to 1997.

Until recently, many of the catalogues could only be consulted within the Prints & Drawings Study Room itself, or on microfiche. However, digital images of the individual catalogue pages are now freely available online. You can search the catalogue headings by surname, subject  or place name. Please note that this is an interim service, and full-text searching of the detailed entries is not yet possible.

To search the catalogues, click on the button below. For more information, see the database’s Help pages.



Other Catalogues of the Collections

Access to Images

An increasing number of records for the Department’s prints, drawings, paintings and photographs are now included in the V&A’s « Access to Images » service. The database includes a wide range of acquisitions, many of which also feature in the older catalogues. Access to Images can be searched via the Museum’s web site at « www.vam.ac.uk ».

Collections Information System

From 1998 onwards, all newly acquired prints, drawings, photographs and paintings have been recorded in the V&A’s Collections Information System, which also includes an increasing number of records for earlier acquisitions. Although many records from the Collections Information System are available through the Access to Images service , the full database is currently only searchable by V&A staff. The Museum plans to transfer the remainder of its older records to the Collections Information System and Access to Images as additional resources become available to undertake the work.

Acquisitions 1987-1997

As described above, some 50% of acquisitions from 1987 to 1997 are included in the Study Room catalogues. The remainder of the material acquired by the Department during this period is listed in a separate database, which is not yet available online. For more information about acquisitions from 1987 onwards, please contact the « Prints & Drawings Study Room ».

Published Catalogues

In addition, a number of printed catalogues have been published for specific categories of material. For a list of these, see:
« Word & Image Department Bibliography ».