Over 20,000 prints, drawings, and photographs as well as illustrated and artists' books held in the Cunningham Center are available to visitors to enjoy and learn from them. The Center was founded to make these resources widely accessible, and visitors are welcome to make an appointment to view items in the collection.
The works on paper collection is broad in scope, representing art from many time periods and cultures. Among a wide range of important Old Master drawings, a unique highlight is the only authenticated drawing by Mathis Gothart Nithart (called Grünewald) in an American collection. There are rich holdings of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century French prints, drawings, and illustrated books by Picasso, Matisse, Toulouse-Lautrec, and many others. Rare proofs by Kathë Kollwitz are highlights in a strong collection of German Expressionist prints. A growing collection of contemporary Chinese prints and drawings include works dating from the late 1970s to the present day. Seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Persian miniatures form a select group. As one of the first public institutions in the U.S. to begin collecting photographs in the early 1930s, SCMA now holds a wide range of photographs, from daguerreotypes to digital prints. There is also a diverse selection of works on paper by contemporary artists from Pakistan to Argentina. Hundreds of new works enter the collection every year, through the generosity of donors and through purchase.