Our focus is on images

We hold drawings, prints, picture postcards, photographs, paintings and sculptures. Our reference library includes books on the following topics:

  • Prints
  • Drawings
  • Artists’ monographs
  • Iconography
  • Printing techniques

The available titles can be found in the Rechercheportal.

From advice to guided tours: our services

If you have questions about artists, the content, dating and techniques of artworks or secondary literature, scientific staff from the Department of Prints and Drawings and Photo Archive will be happy to advise you in the reading room of our Special Collection.

Prints, Drawings and Photo Archive


Insights into our collection

If you would like to learn more about the Department of Prints and Drawings and Photo Archive, we will be happy to arrange viewings of objects in the reading room and digitise them for research and publication purposes. We can also arrange guided tours for groups on request. From time to time, we organise events and exhibitions related to our collection. If you are planning an exhibition, we will be happy to lend objects to you.



Our collection comprises 1.25 million objects of European importance and significance for cultural history. They include:

  • Views of Switzerland
  • Portraits from Switzerland and Europe
  • 16 smaller thematic collections
  • Estates on Zurich art of the 17th–21st centuries
  • Press image archives
  • Archives on the Zurich art scene

Our personal and company archives can be found in the Archivportal, an overview of the individual directly linked holdings via the following link: Bestände Graphische Sammlung und Fotoarchiv. Additional information on our exhibitions is available under Isa Hesse-Rabinovitch and Johann Rudolf Rahn.


You can find our holdings on a number of platforms:

  • swisscovery offers all catalogued holdings online.
  • The image catalogs are available on swisscollections.
  • Unique items, photographs, paintings and sculptures in public domain that have been catalogued since 2012 can be found on e-manuscripta.
  • e-rara contains prints up to 1914. 
  • A list of our nearly 200 pre- and posthumous estates and larger collections can be found on ZBcollections. This list provides direct links to the individual holdings.
  • Browse the Graphikportal for unique items and prints, and Daguerreobase for Daguerreotypes. 
  • Thousands of images can be found on Bilder der Schweiz online (BSO), the online portal for researching and transmitting the historical image of Switzerland.
  • The broadsheets of the Wickiana Collection can be viewed on e-manuscripta.
  • You can also discover the broadsheets and photochroms of the Wickiana Collection on Europeana Collections.
  • 100 masterpieces from our collection as well as the Steinfels Collection can be found in high resolution on Wikimedia Commons.
  • Alternatively, download the Swiss Postcard app. 
  • We also have a list of secondary literature on the contents of our collections. Here you will also find the complete bibliographies of Bruno Weber and Gustav Solar.
  • If you are looking for items that have not yet been catalogued, write to us: graphik@zb.uzh.ch

History of the holdings

A donation from Leonhard Ziegler zum Egli in 1854 lays the foundation for the Department of Prints and Drawings and Photo Archive. From the late 19th century onwards, gifts from Zurich’s patrician class and from artists themselves expand the scope of the collection. They include exquisite holdings of Zurich art from the 19th to the 21st centuries. As it enters the new millennium, the Department is also fortunate to take possession of extensive press image and gallery archives.