The National Gallery of Art yesterday announced a significant addition to its growing collection of contemporary prints and sculpture. The gift, from the University of South Florida's Graphicstudio, includes nearly 250 works by such artists as Philip Pearlstein, James Rosenquist and British painter and print maker Richard Smith.

The collection, to be known as the Graphicstudio Archive, also includes preliminary studies, sketches, print proofs and other materials of value to art historians.

Along with other recent gifts, the Graphicstudio Archive establishes the museum as a center for the exhibition and study of contemporary prints and edition sculpture (sculpture issued in numbered editions), according to gallery officials.

"Having the working record like this is the best way to know the thinking that went into a particular work," said Ruth Fine, a curator of prints and drawings.

"It's a marvelous thing," said curator Andrew Robison. "Some of the best artists we have, Rauschenberg, for example, did some of their best work [at the Graphicstudio]. And some that we don't have -- Jim Dine -- did, too."

Gallery officials declined to comment on the worth of the collection.

Since the opening of the National Gallery's East Building in 1978, the museum has sought to develop its collection of contemporary art. "We're very interested in expanding the collection of contemporary prints and archives," Fine said.

Because its charter precludes the expenditure of gallery funds for the work of living artists, however, gallery curators have relied on donations to expand the collection.

The Graphicstudio collection is the third such major gift for the National Gallery from renowned art workshops in recent years. In 1981 the museum received the Gemini GEL (Graphic Editions Limited) Archive, donated from the Los Angeles workshop of the same name. Three years ago, the museum received a collection of prints produced during the 1960s at Los Angeles' Tamarind Lithography Workshop.

As with the Gemini gift (about 1,100 works to date), the Graphicstudio Archive will grow as new works are created and donated.