The Prints and Photographs Department holds the world’s biggest picture collection, unique for its wealth of material on past centuries, and a living museum of contemporary art. It houses more than 15 million graphic materials of a wide variety of types: drawings – in particular of architecture -, prints, photographs, posters, labels, postcards, fabric samples, playing cards, etc.
The Department also holds an important collection of documentary sources in the field: books, periodicals, sale catalogues...
Numerous exhibitions are organized to highlight the collections. A wide range of news about old and contemporary engravings is collected and disseminated in the Nouvelles de l’Estampe
magazine published by the Department.
The collections of Prints and Photographs department are indexed in the Catalogue général de la BnF.
Some collections are not yet listed in the computerized catalogs. For certain collections, readers have only paper inventories at their disposal. They are available in the reading room.
Some of the printed catalogs were digitized and are available online.
Documents are arranged according to a classification system consisting of 25 series, with collections organized using a dual artistic and documentary approach.