Different to other Departments of Prints, Drawings and Photography the Graphic Art Collection of the MKG focuses on applied graphic art that serve a purpose in everyday life, such as drawings and prints.
This includes small stamps, as well as large posters; however, ornamental engravings form the nucleus of the collection. From the late 15th to the 19th century, engravings provided craftsmen in the provinces with information on the new styles, ornamentation and design of everyday items. In accordance with this tradition, the Graphic Art Collection began as a collection of templates to be used by the museum-affiliated design school. Soon the collection became independent. Estates were acquired and design drawings were collected with the help of numerous collectors and designers. This is why the collection grew to over 250,000 folio (except posters), which represent a wide range of graphic design, though there are some gaps.
Through the years, the Graphic Art Collection evolved with a different emphasis on various types of graphic art collected with varied frequency. These diverse artifacts include examples reporting on historic events or Caricatures, typographic design and books, as well as newspaper illustrations. Also included are unique collections of calendars, menus and bookplates. Complete estates such as that of Carl Otto Czeschka (1878-1960), Alfred Mahlau (1894-1967) and Oskar Hermann Werner Hadank (1889-1965) contain further foci. Paper is sensitive to light; therefore the museum is prohibited from the permanent display of individual works. Instead, a variety of temporary exhibitions are presented to the visitors to highlight different aspects of the collection.