The Fitzwilliam Museum has one of the world’s great print collections, and one that is unique in character. Leaving aside the more specialist ‘decorative’ collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Fitzwilliam’s print collection is the second largest and most important collection of ‘fine-art’ prints in the United Kingdom (behind the British Museum). The growth, development and use of the print collection have depended on the Fitzwilliam’s place within the University of Cambridge.
This means that the Museum is ideally placed to take advantage of the scholarly and teaching potential of what is not only a treasure, but a local, national and international resource. Online access is the latest stage of developing that resource for the widest audience, to help and fulfil the terms of Lord Fitzwilliam’s founding bequest of his collection, which was intended for ‘the increase of learning’.
Works on paper are fragile and damaged by continual exposure to light. The department has an active policy of organizing regularly changing exhibitions and displays from the collection throughout the year, supported by a related series of online resources. Visitors can access works not on display by appointment in the Graham Robertson Study Room.