Is it possible to obtain the Getty vocabulary data?
The three published Getty vocabularies, AAT, TGN, and ULAN, are made available on the Web to support limited research and cataloging efforts. Companies and institutions interested in regular or extensive use of the vocabularies should explore licensing options. Go to the Download Center for information about data formats, a link to the schedule of fees, sample data, and data dictionaries. The fourth Getty vocabulary, CONA, is currently in development.

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 detailed discussions regarding the Getty Vocabulary Program compiling a vocabulary comprising unique numeric identifiers and brief records for art works was undertaken. CONA is scheduled to be available for user contributions in 2011; the online "browser" is scheduled to launch in early 2012.

Learn more about the scope and history of each vocabulary at About the AAT, About the ULAN, About the TGN, and About CONA.

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.

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 and the common English version of the name in TGN. Learn about the data in each vocabulary record at About the AAT, About the ULAN, and About the TGN.

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. 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. The updated data is published on the Web at the beginning of each month. Candidate terms are available only to authorized contributors from the online contribution form. Updated data files for licensing 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, and ULAN currently focuses on increasing the multilinguality and multicultural aspects of each vocabulary.

CONA is in technical development. After 2012, it will be released initially with a set of data from Getty projects, and will be enlarged over the years through contributions from the user community. CONA fills a need for brief authoritative records for works of art and architecture. The target users are the visual resources, art library, academic, and museum communities.

Learn more about the content and current development of each vocabulary at About the AAT, About the ULAN, About the TGN, and About CONA.

Do the Web versions of the AAT, ULAN, and TGN 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 available only in the licensed files.

Are there diacritics (accent marks) in the vocabulary data?
Names and other information in the vocabularies may include dozens of different diacritics, listed in a diacritics chart, Appendix A of the Editorial Guidelines. The diacritic codes map to Unicode. Versions of the data files in Unicode are available for licensing.

The Art & Architecture Thesaurus® (AAT), the Union List of Artists Names ® (ULAN), and the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names® (TGN) are copyrighted by the J. Paul Getty Trust. Companies and institutions interested in regular or extensive use of the vocabularies should explore licensing options discussed at the Download Center.


Updated 13 July 2010