Is it possible to obtain the Getty vocabulary data?
The three published Getty vocabularies, AAT, TGN, and ULAN, and the new resource under development, CONA, are made available in Web search interfaces to support limited research and cataloging efforts. Companies and institutions interested in regular or extensive use of AAT, TGN, or ULAN in XML format or relational tables should explore licensing options. AAT, TGN, and ULAN are also available as Linked Open Data. The new Getty resource, CONA, is currently in development and not available for distribution.

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, and ULAN; it may be linked to images and other resources in the cloud. It is hoped that through rich metadata and links, CONA may provide a powerful conduit for research and discovery for digital art history.

Learn more about the scope and history of each vocabulary and CONA 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, through contributions and other means. The updated data is refreshed in the various release formats 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 and CONA 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 and CONA at About the AAT, About the ULAN, About the TGN, and About CONA. Additional news may be reported Vocabulary Program Updates and our LOD page.

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 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.

The Art & Architecture Thesaurus® (AAT), the Union List of Artists Names ® (ULAN), the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names® (TGN), and the Cultural Objects Name Authority® (CONA) are copyrighted by the J. Paul Getty Trust. Companies and institutions interested in regular or extensive use of the AAT, TGN, or ULAN in XML format or relational tables should explore licensing options discussed at the Download Center. Note that AAT, TGN, and ULAN are also available as Linked Open Data under the Open Data Commons Attribution License (ODC-By) 1.0.

Updated 4 April 2015