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CONA: Frequently Asked Questions
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What is the scope of CONA? What is the scope of IA? How many records are in CONA and IA? Are CONA and IA available as data files?

Read about the Scope of CONA, including what is omitted and who is the intended audience. Read about the Scope of IA. As of November 2021, CONA contains 86,342 records, 107,197 titles/names. IA contains 6,492 records, 8,675 names.

CONA and IA, and the other 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.

Currently, CONA and IA are released online for searching and as Web services.

The data for AAT, TGN, and ULAN can be obtained a) on the Getty Web site, free of charge, for searching individual terms and names, b) by accessing XML, relational tables, APIs, and Linked Open Data (LOD). The Getty Vocabularies are provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust under the Open Data Commons Attribution License (ODC-By) 1.0. The data is refreshed every month.


How can I contribute to CONA or IA?

If your institution wishes to contribute to CONA or IA, write to Describe your institution, the scope of your data or collection, and the types of information your institution collects about works or subjects.

IA: If your cataloging or research project is in the domain of visual arts and has iconographical or other information within scope for IA, please contact us to discuss how to contribute. See also Contribute to Getty Vocabularies

CONA: Currently, development of CONA is focused on architecture, destroyed works, multiples (such as prints), and works depicted in other works or in visual surrogates. If your institution or research project is interested in contributing, please be in touch. Through rich metadata and links, CONA may contribute to a powerful conduit for research and discovery for digital art history. 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.


Which fields are required for a CONA contribution?

Although each CONA record may contain rich data in dozens of fields, relationships between work records, links to the Getty vocabularies, and links to outside resources, the minimum fields for contribution include title/name, work type, creator, date, current location, dimensions, materials, and subject depicted. Default values are provided for fields that are required but for which the contributing institution has no data. The CONA ID, certain flags, and other required values are provided when the data is loaded into CONA; these data are not provided by the contributor.

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.

Which fields are required for an IA contribution?

Although each IA record may contain rich data in dozens of fields, relationships between IA records, links to the Getty vocabularies, and links to outside resources, the minimum fields for contribution include name/title, broader context, and scope note. The IA ID, certain flags, and other required values are provided when the data is loaded into IA; these data are not provided by the contributor.

What criteria are used for the required fields and editorial rules for CONA and IA? Where may I find the editorial rules?

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.

IA is based on the Subject Authority of the CDWA, intended for iconographical subject content that cannot be controlled by AAT, TGN, or ULAN. The fields and editorial rules of the IA are derived from the CDWA Subject Authority.

You may consult online extensive discussions of the fields and rules at Editorial Guidelines for CONA and Editorial Guidelines for IA.

For AAT translation work, please see Guidelines for Multilingual Equivalency Work.

Training presentations on Introduction to CONA and Introduction to IA give basic overviews. Additional traning materials on all Getty vocabularies are also available.


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), the Union List of Artist Names ® (ULAN), and the Getty Iconography Authority (IA). 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.


Search tips for online CONA and IA query form.

Brief tips: CONA
Use any of the 10 fields in this form to search for CONA records. Multiple terms may be entered in most fields in the form. Assume Boolean or between values within one field and Boolean and between fields. You may type search terms directly into the form. Alternatively, use the Lookup option to find terms in AAT, TGN ULAN, or IA. Choose terms and click Return to CONA. In a Lookup search window, use Boolean uppercase OR or AND.

Brief tips: IA
Use the bottom field of the CONA search screen (the IA is a separate authority, however, currently the IA data is searchable within the CONA data model). Currently in IA, searches may be made only on title. (We plan to allow searching on additional fields via this form in the future.) Keyword searching is the default. If you wish to search for an exact match, use quotation marks [e.g., “Buddha”]. Use Boolean uppercase OR or AND [e.g., Life AND Saint]. The wildcard is asterisk (*) [e.g., Africa*].

More tips: For the CONA search, multiple terms may be entered in most of the 10 fields in the form. Assume Boolean "or" between values within one field and Boolean "and" between fields. You may type search terms directly into the form. Alternatively, use the "Lookup" option to find terms in AAT, TGN ULAN, or IA. Choose terms and click Return to CONA.

In a Lookup search window, use Boolean uppercase OR or AND (e.g., in the AAT Lookup: dyptych OR predella); use quotation marks to find exact matches rather than keywords (e.g., in the AAT Lookup, "altar" will bring back a short list of AAT records having a normalized term matching your query, but will not bring back "altar frontal"). Choose the Lookup terms you wish to use, and pass them back to the CONA query form.

Searches from the CONA form will look for all synonyms for the term in the linked vocabulary (e.g., altar-altaar-ara and other AAT synonyms for "altar (religious fixtures)" would be used in the search). Searches using AAT and TGN Lookup will include all narrower contexts of the term in the search (e.g., "arula," a narrower context of "altars (religious fixtures)" would be returned on a search using the latter term).

For locations, note that repositories are not included in a geographic search. For example, if you use the Lookup to search for TGN geographic place "Florence (Italy)," it will not retrieve records in repositories located in Florence. However, it will include records for works linked directly to the geographic place, for example, those noted as created in Florence (if this information is included in the work record). [In future, we intend to allow geographic searches for repositories.]

To search in the Iconography Authority (IA), use the field at the bottom of the form. This field searches within the separate IA authority. To search for object records having an iconographic subject, you must use the subject search fields for CONA itself.


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

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Last updated 10 November 2021

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