Is it possible to obtain the Getty vocabulary data?
The Getty Vocabularies, AAT, TGN, and ULAN, CONA, and IA, are made available in Web search interfaces to support limited research and cataloging efforts. Companies and institutions interested in regular or extensive use of the Vocabularies may use AAT, TGN, or ULAN in XML format, relational tables, or as Linked Open Data. CONA and IA are currently available only in the online search and as Web services. Please find more information at the Download Center.

What is the scope and purpose of the Getty Vocabularies?
Getty Vocabularies contain structured terminology for art, architecture, decorative arts, archival materials, visual surrogates, art conservation, and bibliographic materials. Compliant with international standards, they provide authoritative information for catalogers, researchers, and data providers. They contain coreferences to other resources where topics overlap.

The domain of the Getty Vocabularies is the visual arts. They are used for three purposes:

Cataloging: The Getty Vocabularies may be used as data value standards at the point of documentation or cataloging. In this context, they may be used as a controlled vocabulary or authority by the cataloger or indexer; they provide preferred names/terms and synonyms for people, places, and things. They also provide structure and classification schemes that can aid in documentation.

Retrieval and access: The Getty Vocabularies aid in access and retrieval for research and discovery. They may be used as search assistants in database retrieval systems and more broadly in a linked environment.

Knowledge bases and research tools: The Getty Vocabularies are not simple 'value vocabularies.' They may be utilized as research tools, valuable because of the rich information and contextual knowledge that they contain. They include semantic networks that utilize links and paths between concepts.

The Getty Vocabularies are unique in their global coverage of the defined domain, in citing published sources and contributors and their preferences, in allowing interconnections among historical and current information, in accommodating the sometimes debated and ambiguous nature of art historical information, and in allowing complex relationships within and between Vocabularies. That is, they are not simple 'value vocabularies'; they are also rich 'knowledge bases' in themselves.

The scope and history of each vocabulary is discussed on the following pages: About the AAT, About the ULAN, About the TGN, and About CONA and IA.

What is the history of the Getty Vocabularies?
Work on the AAT began in the late 1970s in response to a need expressed by art libraries, art journal indexing services, and catalogers of museum objects and visual resource collections for a controlled vocabulary to encourage consistency in cataloging and more efficient retrieval of information. While controlled headings and terminology were already common in the field of bibliographic cataloging, and thesauri for cataloging in the sciences was by then well established, the use of a thesaurus for indexing was not welcomed by art catalogers prior to the advent of computerized cataloging. The original core AAT terms were derived from scattered local lists and other sources, in consultation with a panel of experts in architecture and art. The AAT was first published, in print form, in 1990.

Work on the ULAN began in 1984, when the Getty merged and coordinated controlled vocabulary resources for use by the J. Paul Getty Trust's many automated documentation projects. The AAT was already being managed by the Getty at this time, and the Getty attempted to respond to requests from Getty projects for additional controlled Vocabularies for artists' names (ULAN) and geographic names (TGN). In 1987 the Getty created a department dedicated to compiling and distributing terminology. Although originally intended only for use by Getty projects, in response to requests from the broader community, the ULAN was first published in 1991, in print form, according to the tenets previously established for the construction and maintenance of the AAT.

Work on the TGN began in 1987. Its development was informed by an international study completed by the Thesaurus Artis Universalis (TAU), a working group of the Comité International d'Histoire de l'Art (CIHA), and by the consensus reached at a colloquium held in 1991, attended by the spectrum of potential users of geographic vocabulary in cataloging and scholarship of art and architectural history and archaeology. The TGN was first published, on the Web, in 1997.

Work on CONA began in 2004, when, with the support of the user community, detailed discussions regarding the Getty Vocabulary Program compiling a resource comprising unique numeric identifiers and brief records for art works, both extant, historical, and conceived but not built, was undertaken. CONA is linked to AAT, TGN, ULAN, and IA; it may be linked to images and other resources. It is hoped that through rich metadata and links, CONA may provide a powerful conduit for research and discovery for digital art history. CONA contains compiled information about the work; it does not represent the work. CONA contains a concordance of IDs for other sources about the work, including the repository's IDs (if any), LOC authority IDs, BWR IDs, and others.

The IA was begun in 2004, originally as a supporting authority for CONA, but now as a stand-alone source of iconographic information that is not covered by the other Getty Vocabularies. The IA provides information about subjects depicted in art works, but not covered by AAT, TGN, ULAN, or CONA. The IA contains records for subjects that can be identified with proper names in the realm of iconographical narratives, events, religious and legendary characters, and themes.

What is the mission of the Getty Vocabulary Program?
The mission of the Getty Vocabulary Program (GVP) is to produce rich, structured, authoritative vocabularies, in compliance with international standards, that provide a powerful conduit for inter-related, linked, and meaningful research, discovery, and understanding of the visual arts and their various histories, in collaboration with the international community, and utilizing training and outreach to inform the field.

A primary goal of the Getty Vocabulary Program is to broaden and enrich the scope and coverage of the Getty Vocabularies to become ever more multilingual, multicultural, inclusive, and representative of the subjects and priorities of the GRI, the Getty, and global art history.

Getty Vocabulary Program: What do we do?
The Getty Vocabularies are created, compiled, and disseminated by the Getty Vocabulary Program in the Getty Research Institute, with technical support from Getty Digital, with the goal of improving access to diverse information about art, architecture, and material culture. The AAT, TGN, ULAN, CONA, and IA contain structured terminology and related information for art, architecture, decorative arts, archival materials, visual surrogates, conservation, and bibliographic materials. The Getty Vocabularies are compliant with international standards and provide authoritative information for catalogers, researchers, and data providers. Target audiences are information experts serving researchers, art museums, special collections, art libraries, and archaeological and conservation projects, although other audiences are frequent users as well. The Vocabularies grow through contributions from the expert user community and online open resources. The Getty Vocabularies support the mission of the Getty Research Institute, to aid scholarly research. Intended for cataloging and retrieval the Getty Vocabularies may provide a powerful conduit for research and discovery for the linked environment and digital art history. Through editorial, cataloging, and usage guidelines for the Getty Vocabularies, and with CDWA, a set of guidelines for the description of art, architecture, and other cultural works, the Getty plays a leadership role. The Getty has worked to reach consensus with the broader art history community, and provides guidelines for best practice and practical examples of usage of the Getty Vocabularies and related standards.

Currently, Patricia Harpring is Managing Editor of the Getty Vocabulary Program in Digital Initiatives, Getty Research Institute. Editors are Jonathan Ward, Robin Johnson, and Antonio Beecroft. The technical team is located in Getty Digital; team members include Lily Pregill, Gregg Garcia, and David Newbury.

Why isn't the term I need in the Vocabularies?
If you are accessing the data online, please check the guidelines for searching the AAT, ULAN, and TGN. If you still cannot find the term, please note that the Getty vocabularies are compilations; they are not comprehensive. Some terminology may be outside the scope of the Getty Vocabularies, or it may not yet have been added to the Vocabularies. The scope of the Getty Vocabularies covers artists, places, and other terms having to do with the visual arts and material culture, from antiquity to the present. The Vocabularies are living thesauri that grow through contributions from selected cataloging and documentation projects. CONA and IA are under development, and currently have only a limited number of records.

How do I know which is the "correct" term in a vocabulary record?
In many vocabulary records, synonyms and variant names refer to the same concept. There is often no single "correct" term for a concept. If users wish to control terminology with the Vocabularies, they can consistently use the same term for the same concept. Terms at the top of the record in the Web displays are generally the name or term most often used in scholarly literature to refer to the concept ("preferred names/terms" or "descriptors"). Other terms in the record may also be flagged, including the singular form of the term in AAT, the common English version of the name in TGN, and the owning repository's preferred title in CONA. Learn about the data in each vocabulary record at About the AAT, About the ULAN, About the TGN, and About CONA and IA.

Who contributes to the Getty Vocabularies?
Contributors are typically Getty projects or other museums, libraries, archives, bibliographic and documentation projects, or visual resources collections that catalog art objects, visual surrogates, or information about the visual arts and cultural heritage. See the online list of Contributors. Some recent and historical contributors to the Getty Vocabularies include projects and departments at the Getty Research Institute (including the Provenance Index, Special Collections, Photo Archive, the Library, and scholar research); the Getty Conservation Institute; the J. Paul Getty Museum; Academia Sinica of Taiwan; Centro de Documentación de Bienes Patrimoniales, Chile; Netherlands Institute for Art History (RKD); the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin Preussischer Kulturbesitz; Built Works Registry; Witt Computer Index and the Courtauld Institute; Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals, Columbia University; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Grove Art; Indiana University slide library; Victoria and Albert Museum; Bibliography of the History of Art / Bibliographie d'Histoire de l'Art; Foundation for Documents of Architecture, Washington, DC; the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam; Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo e la Documentazione, Rome; the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN); Canadian Centre for Architecture / Centre Canadien d'Architecture; Frick Art Reference Library; the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African Art; National Art Library in London; Census of Antique Art and Architecture Known to the Renaissance; the Mystic Seaport Museum; the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin; and the Bunting Visual Resources Library at the University of New Mexico. To learn about contributing, click the navigation link for Contribute to the Getty Vocabularies.

What are the sources of information for the Vocabularies?
Sources are usually standard general reference works and other authoritative sources, as well as scholarly books and articles. Other sources may include original archival documents or signatures and inscriptions on art objects. For recommended sources and other editorial rules, click the navigation link for Editorial Guidelines.

How often is the information updated?
The information is constantly updated in the Getty Vocabulary Program's production databases, through contributions and other means. The updated data is refreshed in the various release formats, including LOD, every two weeks. Candidate terms are available only to authorized contributors from the online contribution form. Full annual releases for licensing in XML and relational files are released in June of each year. Thousands of records are added or edited in each vocabulary annually.

What areas are currently being developed in the Vocabularies?
Development in AAT, TGN, ULAN, CONA, and IA focuses on increasing the multilinguality and multicultural aspects of each resource, and linking in the evolving LOD realm. Learn more about the content and current development of each vocabulary at About the AAT, About the ULAN, About the TGN, and About CONA and IA. Additional news may be reported at recently added records, Vocabulary Program Updates, and our LOD page.

Do the Web versions of the AAT, ULAN, TGN, CONA, and IA contain all available data from the Vocabularies?
The browsers do not display all information in the vocabulary databases. Notably, fields intended only for indexing or retrieval and the revision history of how the records have changed over time do not appear on the Web. This additional information is currently available only in the data releases for AAT, TGN, and ULAN: XML, Relational Tables, APIs, and LOD.

Are there diacritics (accent marks) in the vocabulary data?
Names and other information in the Vocabularies may include dozens of different diacritics. Whereas formerly the diacritics were encoded by a specialized system, the data is now released as Unicode.

How may I cite the Vocabularies in MARC?

MARC Bibliographic standard for citing Getty Vocabulary terms.
Include the descriptor or another term in the vocabulary record, citing the vocabulary as the source. In the example below, AAT terms are used to index the GRI Special Collections finding aid for the Harald Szeemann papers, 1800-2011, bulk 1949-2005.

655 _7 |a Posters |z United States |y 20th century. |2 aat

655 _7 |a Self-portraits |z United States |y 20th century. |2 aat

655 _7 |a Still lifes |z United States |y 20th century. |2 aat

655 _7 |a Videotapes |z United States |y 20th century. |2 aat

655 _7 |a Born digital |2 aat

MARC Standard format to include the unique subject_id of the Getty vocabulary record
To ensure accuracy and maintaining up-to-date links as the vocabulary data changes over time, in addition to listing the vocabulary term, it is a good idea to cite the unique identifier of the Getty vocabulary record, if possible. Please consult instructions regarding the formulation of URIs (Uniform Resource Identifiers) for Getty vocabulary records.

The MARC standard prefers using the full URI in the $0 subfield (which also means that no MARC organization code is required, as the source is identified in the domain of the Getty Vocabularies URI).*

Below is an example of using the $0 containing the AAT term URI with the 655 field from the Frick Art Reference Library.

655 _7 Reproductions.|2 aat |0

655 _7 Paintings (visual works)|2 aat |0

*For more see MARC documentation:

See Authority record control number or standard number. Subfield $0 contains the system control number of the related authority or classification record, or a standard identifier such as an International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI). These identifiers may be in the form of text or a URI. If the identifier is text, the control number or identifier is preceded by the appropriate MARC Organization code (for a related authority record) or the Standard Identifier source code (for a standard identifier scheme), enclosed in parentheses. When the identifier is given in the form of a Web retrieval protocol, e.g., HTTP URI, no preceding parenthetical is used.

See MARC Code List for Organizations for a listing of organization codes, Subject Heading and Term Source Codes, and Standard Identifier Source Codes for code systems for standard identifiers. Subfield $0 is repeatable for different control numbers or identifiers.

The Art & Architecture Thesaurus® (AAT), the Union List of Artists Names ® (ULAN), the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names® (TGN), the Cultural Objects Name Authority® (CONA), and the Getty Iconography Authority (IA) are provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust under the Open Data Commons Attribution License (ODC-By) 1.0.

Updated 10 November 2021