The Getty
Research Home Search Tools & Databases Learn about the Getty Vocabularies Cultural Objects Name Authority: Frequently Asked Questions
Cultural Objects Name Authority Online
CONA: Frequently Asked Questions
back to previous page

How can my institution contribute to CONA?

If your institution wishes to contribute to CONA, write to Describe your institution, the scope of your collection, and the types of information your institution collects about works. Contributions to CONA are currently accepted in bulk via a prescribed XML format, CDWA Lite, or LIDO. As of this writing, CONA is being mapped to CIDOC CRM; contributions through LOD will be explored in the future.


Which fields are required in my CONA contribution?

The minimum fields and editorial rules of CONA are in compliance with CDWA and CCO. Works are identified with a unique and persistent numeric ID. In addition, given that CONA should be reliable and authoritative, it is important that records contain enough other minimum information to allow users of CONA to clearly identify each work uniquely, in order to prevent users from unintentionally linking to the wrong work. A general description of the minimum fields for CONA is listed below:

Catalog Level: An indication of the level of cataloging represented by the record, based on the physical form or intellectual content of the material (e.g., item, group, subgroup, volume, collection).

Object/Work Type: The kind of object or work described (e.g., refectory table, altarpiece, portfolio, drawing, drinking vessel, basilica, dome).

Title or Name: Titles, identifying phrases, or names given to a work of art, architecture, or material culture. For complex works, series, or collections, the title may refer to a discrete unit within the larger entity (a print from a series, a photograph in a collection, a panel from a fresco cycle, a building within a temple complex) or it may identify only the larger entity (series, collection, cycle) itself (e.g., Venus and Cupid, Noli me tangere, Portrait of Thomas Jefferson, Ceramic fruit bowl, Untitled, Empire State Building, Album of 65 Studies).

Creator: Identification of the named or anonymous individuals or corporate bodies responsible for the design, production, manufacture, or alteration of the work. If there is no known creator, a reference to the presumed culture or nationality of the unknown creator (e.g., Christopher Wren, attributed to Kicking Bear, follower of the Limbourg Brothers, Tintoretto with additions by unknown 16th-century Venetian).

Creation Date: The date or range of dates associated with the creation, design, production, presentation, performance, construction, or alteration of the work or its components  (e.g., 1667, ca. 1210, 17th century, before 952 BCE, reign of Rameses II).

Measurements: Information about the dimensions, size, or scale of the work. It may include the scale of the work. It may also include the number of the parts of a complex work, series, or collection (e.g., 23.9 x 35.8 x 8.3 cm, 76 x 41 x 39 feet, 56.8 cm (diameter), sheets range from 20.3 to 49 cm height).

Materials and Techniques: An indication of the substances or materials used in the creation of a work, as well as any implements, production or manufacturing techniques, processes, or methods incorporated in its fabrication. For works on paper, descriptions of watermarks may also be included (e.g., oil on canvas, egg-tempera paint with tooled gold-leaf halos on panel, Carrara marble on granite base).

Subject Matter:  Terms that characterize what the work depicts or what is depicted in it, including generic terms and proper names, and all terms that characterize the narrative, iconographic, or non-objective meaning conveyed by an abstract or a figurative composition. Subject matter is what is depicted in and by a work of art. It also covers the function of an object or architecture that otherwise has no narrative content. (e.g., landscape, portrait, allegory, still life, nonrepresentational art, Madonna and Child, Chicomecoatl, Thomas Jefferson, pear, lilies, book of hours, sarcophagus lid).

Current Location:  The name and geographic location of the repository that is currently responsible for the work, or, for monumental works and architecture, the geographic location of the work. If the work is lost, destroyed, has an unknown location, or in an anonymous private collection, this is indicated. (e.g., Graphische Sammlung Albertina (Vienna, Austria); Columbus (Indiana, USA); location unknown).

The minimum fields in a CONA record are the types of information typically captured in a visual resources catalog, repository catalog records, or included on a museum wall label. To contribute in bulk, an institution would map fields in their database to the fields in CONA. For example, a field called "Title of Work" in a museum's collection management system may map to the field called "Title/Name" in CONA; "Type of Object" in a library special collections system, may be "Object/Work Type" in CONA.

Default values and suggested methods will be available to assist a contributor who may be lacking required data. Where a given type of minimum CONA data is not actually captured in a contributor's records, it may often be implied from the scope or location of the collection, and thus can be included as a default value. For example, if a repository is contributing data but does not have a field in its local records specifically mapping to Current Location, the current location may be inferred and included by default for that contribution. Depicted subject may be lacking in contributors' records; it may often be surmised from the object/work type or title. Default values, such as “unavailable,” may also be provided for occasional instances where the required data is simply unavailable, for example, if measurements are unknown.

In addition to the minimum fields listed above, CONA will include optional fields, including place of discovery or other former locations, language of the title, inscriptions, style, culture, events associated with the work, descriptive note, copyright statement, and provenance. The Title or Name field is repeatable in CONA, capturing the equivalence relationships characteristic of a thesaurus. Hierarchical relationships may be included as well, when records in CONA are linked to each other in whole/part relationships, for example, to link a work to the archival group of which it is a part, or to link a print to the series of prints of which it is a part. Associative relationships may be included, as when the record for a sketch for a painting is linked to the record for the painting with relationship type study for.

Will CONA be published?

CONA is currently in development; as a demonstration project, it is currently available in an online search interface. It is hoped that CONA will be a resource for metadata about art works that can provide a conduit for research, discovery, and links to images.

What criteria are used for the required fields and editorial rules for CONA?

CONA is compliant with the CDWA (Categories for the Description of Works of Art) and CCO (Cataloging Cultural Objects), both of which are standards for cataloging works of art and architecture, based upon consensus and best practice at major cataloging institutions and repositories worldwide. In most cases, CONA rules are also compliant with library cataloging standards, where this is possible given the special characteristics of art works and architecture. CONA is a thesaurus in structure, and thus compliant with ISO and NISO standards for thesaurus construction. It is mapped to CIDOC CRM as well.

How does CONA differ from a collections management system?

CONA is an authoritative resource in which records from multiple institutions and scholarly research are compiled, while a collections management system is intended for use by a single repository or cataloging institution. Data in such systems reflect only that repository's point of view regarding a given object.

CONA has fewer fields than would be required to manage a collection. In addition, CONA may have multiple contributors for a single record, while a collections management system would include only data from the repository using the system. Given that CONA is intended to aid search and retrieval across collections, among the most important characteristics of CONA are the persistent unique numeric ID that designates the unique object/work and the multiple points of view and access points, such as titles/names in many languages and historical context.

In brief, CONA compiles titles, attributions, depicted subjects, and other metadata about works of art, architecture, and cultural heritage, both extant and historical. Metadata is gathered or linked from museum collections, special collections, archives, libraries, scholarly research, and other sources. CONA is linked to the Getty's structured vocabularies, the Art & Architecture Thesaurus ® (AAT), the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names ® (TGN), and the Union List of Artist Names ® (ULAN). Through rich metadata and links, it is hoped that CONA will provide a powerful conduit for research and discovery for digital art history and related disciplines.


Go to the general F.A.Q. for the Getty Vocabularies.

Back to Top

Updated 4 May 2015

The J. Paul Getty Trust
The J. Paul Getty Trust
© J. Paul Getty Trust | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use