Although the early fine arts teaching collection had grown to over a 1,000 pieces by 1936, the museum began in 1941 with a new focus on acquiring high-quality impressions by a wider range of artists.

In the 1960s, under the tutelage of Professor Diether Thimme, the museum expanded its collection of prints by the Old Masters and leading modern European and American artists.

For contemporary work, the museum received more than 150 prints, proofs, and printing matrices as the archive for former IU-based Echo Press. The largest single gift of prints and artists’ books came in 1998 with the bequest of Professor Thimme’s collection by his widow and the museum’s late object conservator, Danaë Thimme.