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Cultural Objects Name Authority (CONA): Editorial Guidelines


Purpose of these Guidelines
Purpose of CONA
Status and Focus

    Introduction and Overview (PDF, 13 MB, 236pp)

    1.1.1 Scope and Structure
    1.1.2 More about Structure
    1.1.3 What is a "Work" in CONA?

    1.2.1 Review process
    1.2.2 Does contributors' data follow editorial rules?

    1.3.1 Web browsers
    1.3.2 Licensed files

    1.4.1 Database
    1.4.2 Merged Records
    1.4.3 Operating VCS


    2.1.1 Following the rules
    2.1.2 Required fields and minimal records
    2.1.3 Format and values
    2.1.4 Capitalization and abbreviation
    2.1.5 Language of the Record
    2.1.6 Production goals
    2.1.7 Leaving unfinished records overnight
    2.1.8 Quality control
    2.1.9 Avoid plagiarism
    2.1.10 Uncertainty and ambiguity in display fields
    2.1.11 Uncertainty and ambiguity in indexing fields
    2.1.12 Uncertain identification of a work

    2.2.1 Rules for merging
    2.2.2 Procedures for merging

    2.3.1 Rules for moving
    2.3.2 Procedures for moving

    2.4.1 Sample CONA record
    2.5.1 About the fields
    2.5.2 List of VCS Fields


    3.1.1 Parents
    3.1.2 Sort Order
    3.1.3 Historical Flag: Current or Historical parents and other flags
    3.1.4 Dates for relationship to parents
    3.1.5 Parent String
(required default)
    3.1.6 Facet or Hierarchy Code

    3.2.1 Subject ID
(required default)
    3.2.2 Parent Key
    3.2.3 Merged Status
    3.2.4 Published Status
    3.2.5 Review Status
    3.2.6 Record Type
    3.2.7 Candidate Status
    3.2.8 Label
    3.2.9 Contributors for the Work Record
    3.2.10 Sources for the Work Record

    3.3.1 Term ID
    3.3.2 Titles/Names
    3.3.3 Preferred Flag
    3.3.4 Qualifier
    3.3.5 Sequence Number
    3.3.6 Historical Flag
    3.3.7 Term Type
    3.3.8 Part of Speech

    3.3.9 Vernacular Flag (required-default)
    3.3.10 Language for Titles/Names
    3.3.11 Preferred Flag for Language
    3.3.12 Language Status
    3.3.13 Contributor for Titles/Names
    3.3.14 Preferred Flag for Contributor
    3.3.15 Sources for Titles/Names
    3.3.16 Page Number for Title Source
    3.3.17 Preferred Flag for Source
    3.3.18 Dates for Titles/Names
    3.3.19 Display Title/Name Flag
    3.3.20 AACR Flag (LC heading)
    3.3.21 Other Flags
    3.3.22 Assigned To

    3.4.1 Descriptive Note
    3.4.2 Sources for the Descriptive Note
    3.4.3 Contributor for the Descriptive Note

    3.5.1 Related Works
    3.5.2 Relationship Type
    3.5.3 Historical Flag
    3.5.4 Dates for Related Works


    3.6.1 Work Type, Creator, Dates, Location Catalog Level
(required-default) Work Type
(required) Preferred Flag for Work Type
(required-default) Sequence Number
(required-default) Historical Flag
(required-default) Display Date for Work Type Start Date / End Date for Work Type Classification
(required) Preferred Flag for Classification
(required-default) Creator Display
(required) Preferred Flag for Creator
(required-default) Contributor for Creator Display
(required) Related Person / Corporate Body (required) Related Person Role
(required-default) Related Person Extent Related Person Qualifier Creation Date Display
(required) Date Qualifier Start Date and End Date
(required) Geographic or Corporate Body Location
(required) Historical Flag for Location
(required-default) Location Type
(required-default) Repository Numbers
(required if applicable) Credit Line Address Note

    3.6.2 Physical Characteristics, Culture, Provenance Display Materials
(required) Material Term (required if applicable) Material Role Material Flag Material Extent Display Dimensions
(required) Value
(required if applicable) Unit
(required if applicable) Dimension Type
(required if applicable) Dimensions Extent Dimensions Qualifier Scale Type Format Shape Culture Term Culture Sequence Number Culture Preferred Flag Style Term Style Sequence Number Style Preferred Flag Style Type Creation Number Copyright Provenance Watermarks Inscriptions Typeface Marks State Edition

    3.6.3 Depicted Subject, Iconography Authority (IA) General Depicted Subject
(required) General Sequence Number (required-default) General Preferred Flag
(required-default) General Indexing Type General Subject Extent Specific Depicted Subject
(highly recommended if applicable) Specific Sequence Number Specific Preferred Flag Specific Indexing Type Specific Subject Extent Outside Iconography Term Outside Iconography Code Outside Iconography Source Source Preferred Flag Source Page IA: Iconography ID
(required-default) IA: Iconography Parent
(required-default) IA: General Iconography Type
(required) IA: Iconography Name
(required) IA: Name Sequence Number
(required-default) IA: Name Preferred Flag
(required-default) IA: Name Type
(required-default) IA: Name Qualifier IA: Name Language IA: Name Language Preferred Flag IA: Name Source
(required) IA: Source Preferred Flag IA: Source Page IA: Descriptive Note IA: Iconography Display Date IA: Iconography Start Date and End Date IA: Related Iconographic Subject IA: Iconographic Relationship Type IA: Iconographic Relationship Note IA: Related Generic Concept IA: Generic Concept Relationship Type IA: Generic Concept Relationship Note IA: Related Place IA: Related Place Relationship Type IA: Related Place Relationship Note IA: Related Person / Corporate Body IA: Related Person / Corp. Body Relationship Type IA: Related Person / Corp. Body Relationship Note IA: General Iconography Source IA: Source Page

    3.7.1 Event Type
    3.7.2 Preferred Flag for Event
    3.7.3 Sequence Number
    3.7.4 Event Place
    3.7.5 Dates for Event

    3.8.1 Comment Flag
    3.8.2 Problem Flag
    3.8.3 Assigned To
    3.8.4 Special Project
    3.8.5 Facet Code
    3.8.6 Legacy ID
    3.8.7 Class Notation
    3.8.8 Image
    3.8.9 Index Note
    3.8.10 Not Found Note
    3.8.11 Status Note
    3.8.12 Editor Note
    3.8.13 Revision History

    4.1.1 How to Use Diacritical Codes
    4.1.2 Diacritical Codes: Quick Reference
    4.1.3 Diacritical Codes: Full List

    4.2.1 How to Record Dates
    4.2.2 How to Use the Date Authority
    4.2.3 Date Authority

    4.3.1 How to Record Sources
    4.3.2 Rules for Sources
    4.3.3 Merging Sources

    4.4.1 How to Record Contributors

    4.5.1 How to Record Languages
    4.5.2 List of Languages




compiled and edited by
Patricia Harpring, managing editor

the Getty Vocabulary Program
Antonio Beecroft, editor
Robin Johnson, editor
Jonathan Ward, editor

Revised: 25 August 2015


This document contains information about editorial practice for the Cultural Objects Name Authority (CONA)®, which is compiled by the Getty Vocabulary Program. It is linked to the three Getty vocabularies: the Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT)®, the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN)®, and the Union List of Artist Names (ULAN)®.

NOTE: The guidelines in this document are subject to frequent modification and addition.


Purpose of these guidelines
The Cultural Objects Name Authority® (CONA) is currently in development. It 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. Through rich metadata and links in an open data world, it is hoped that CONA will provide a powerful conduit for research and discovery for digital art history and related disciplines.

This document contains rules and guidelines for CONA, intended for use by the editors of the Getty Vocabulary Program using the in-house editorial system, VCS (Vocabulary Coordination System). Contributors to the Getty Vocabularies and implementers of the licensed vocabulary data may consult these guidelines as well. However, contributors and implementers should keep in mind that they must extrapolate information and guidance appropriate for their own needs and uses.


Purpose of CONA
The Getty vocabularies provide terminology and other information about the objects, artists, concepts, and places important to various disciplines that specialize in art, architecture and other material culture. CONA is linked to the Getty vocabularies, which in turn are linked to other metadata. "CONA" is a misnomer, in that it contains much more than simply variations on titles and names for a work. CONA contains links to artists and patrons, style, dates, locations, studies and other related works, bibliography, and the subjects depicted in the works. It contains links to images of the works. It provides unique, persistent numeric identifiers for the work and all of its associated information, allowing disambiguation between similar works and authoritative identification of the work in a linked environment.

In the new realm of digital art history, CONA brings the three Getty vocabularies together as it focuses on the works themselves, whether built works or movable works, whether extant or historical. Even works that are destroyed, disassembled, or planned but not constructed may be included. For example, if an altarpiece or manuscript has been disassembled and the parts reside at multiple repositories, a CONA record may link all the pertinent information to virtually reconstruct the lost work from the dispersed pieces. Series of works and archival groups may be included. Multiples, such as prints, may be linked and described as separate states for research and discovery.

While the information provided by the repository or owner of the work is considered most authoritative in a CONA record, other scholarly opinions and historical information about the work may be included to reflect and link the full history and scholarly discussion about a given work over time.


Status and focus
CONA is in development. Milestones and news will be reported on the Getty vocabulary site. CONA is a compiled resource that will grow through contributions and linking in the cloud. Institutions interested in contributing to CONA may contact us at CONA is linked to the AAT, TGN, and ULAN, which are available for licensing in relational tables and XML, and recently also as Linked Open Data. Web search interfaces allow searching and browsing of CONA, AAT, TGN, and ULAN. In all releases, the data is refreshed every two weeks.

CONA focuses on cultural works, including architecture and movable works such as paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, manuscripts, photographs, ceramics, textiles, furniture, and other visual media such as frescoes and architectural sculpture, performance art, archaeological artifacts, and various functional objects that are from the realm of material culture and of the type collected by museums.


CONA and the Getty Vocabularies are copyrighted: Copyright © 2015 J. Paul Getty Trust. All rights reserved. CONA is under development and not available for distribution at this time. Regarding AAT, TGN, and ULAN, companies and institutions interested in regular or extensive use of the vocabularies should explore licensing optionsfor the XML files or relational tables by contacting the Vocabulary Program ( AAT, TGN, and ULAN are also available as Linked Open Data under the Open Data Commons Attribution License (ODC-By) 1.0.

A minimum record in CONA contains a numeric ID, title or name, creator, object/work type, and other fields as described below. Information in CONA is compiled by the Getty Vocabulary Program in collaboration with many institutions, and linked to metadata in the cloud. Implementers should keep in mind that CONA, like the three Getty vocabularies, will grow and change over time.


CONA is a compiled resource; it is not comprehensive. It grows over time to become gradually more comprehensive and to accommodate new research and discovery in art history, archaeology, and related disciplines. Institutions interested in becoming contributors to CONA should write to, explaining the scope of their collections and likely contributions.


For further information, please contact

the Getty Vocabulary Program

Getty Vocabulary Program
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles, CA 90049







General Information about CONA

For a briefer general introduction, see CONA Introduction and Overview (PDF, 13 MB, 236pp).





Scope and Structure



Scope of CONA
CONA is a resource containing authoritative records for cultural works, including architecture and movable works such as paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, manuscripts, photographs, textiles, ceramics, furniture, other visual media such as frescoes and architectural sculpture, performance art, archaeological artifacts, and various functional objects that are from the realm of material culture and of the type collected by museums.

The focus of CONA is works cataloged or described in scholarly literature, museum collections, visual resources collections, archives, libraries, and indexing projects with a primary emphasis on art, architecture, or archaeology.

Included also are works that were visualized but not built, and historical works that are now distroyed or the parts of which are dispersed. CONA compiles information from the owners or repositories of the objects, but also from scholarly research and historical resources about the objects. Where available, CONA includes links to images for the works.



Structure of the Data
The focus of each CONA record is a work of art or architecture. In the database, each work's record (also called a subject in the database, not to be confused with iconographical depicted subjects of art works) is identified by a unique numeric ID. Linked to each work's record are titles/names, current location, dates, other fields, related works, a parent (that is, a position in the hierarchy), sources for the data, and notes. The coverage of CONA is global, from prehistory through the present. Names or titles may be current, historical, and in various languages.



Facets and heirarchies
The primary top divisions of CONA are the facets Built Work and Movable Work.

  • Unpublished facets in CONA are used for candidate records. Unpublished facets and hierarchies are designated by a flag and the "name" temp.parent (e.g., temp.parent/candidate records)




More about Structure

CONA is mapped to CIDOC CRM. A Conceptual Reference Model (CRM) provides definitions and a formal structure for describing the implicit and explicit concepts and relationships used in cultural heritage documentation. The CIDOC CRM is intended to promote a shared understanding of cultural heritage information by providing a common and extensible semantic framework to which any cultural heritage information can be mapped.

The basic core structure of CONA may also be conceived as a thesaurus, with other types of information clustered around this thesaural structure. In this way, CONA easily fits with and may interact with the Getty vocabularies, AAT, TGN, and ULAN, which are thesauri.

What is a thesarus? A thesaurus is a semantic network of unique concepts, including relationships between synonyms, broader and narrower (parent/child) contexts, and other related concepts. Thesauri allow three types of relationships: equivalence (synonym), hierarchical (whole/part, instance, or genus/species), and associative.

  • There are many fields in CONA, however through titles/names (equivalence relationships), as well as hierarchical and associative relationships, the basic structure of CONA is that of a thesaurus in compliance with ISO and NISO standards. Although it may be displayed as a list, CONA is a hierarchical database; its trees branch from a root called Top of the CONA hierarchy (Subject_ID: 700000000).

  • There may be multiple broader contexts, making CONA polyhierarchical. In addition to the hierarchical relationships (e.g., between a print and the larger volume to which it belongs), CONA has equivalence relationships (between equivalent titles/names) and associative relationships (e.g., between a sketch and the final work).

  • Most fields in CONA records are written in English. However, the structure of CONA supports multilinguality insofar as titles/names and descriptive notes may be written and flagged in multiple languages. All terms and other information are written in Unicode.





Thesauri may have the following three relationships:





Equivalence relationships
The relationships between synonymous titles or names that refer to the same work, typically distinguishing preferred titles and non-preferred terms (variants).





Hierarchical relationships
Broader and narrower (parent/child) relationships between concepts. Hierarchical relationships are generally either whole/part, genus/species, or instance; in CONA, most hierarchical relationships are whole part (e.g., a drawing is a part of a sketchbook). Relationships may be polyhierarchical, meaning that each child may be linked to multiple parents. Historical whole/part relationships may be tracked, for example, folios of disassembled manuscripts may be brought together again in CONA.





Associative relationships
The relationships between works that are directly related, but the relationship is not hierarchical because it is not whole/part or genus/species. An example is a drawing that is a study for a built work.





What is a "Work" in CONA?
CONA contains records for Built Works and Movable Works.

  • Built works:  For CONA, built works include structures or parts of structures that are the result of conscious construction, are of practical use, are relatively stable and permanent, and are of a size and scale appropriate for, but not limited to, habitable buildings. Models and miniature buildings are not built works (they are movable works). Most built works in CONA are manifestations of the built environment that are typically classified as fine art, meaning it is generally considered to have esthetic value, was designed by an architect (whether or not his or her name is known), and constructed with skilled labor. However, other structures that do not fall under this definition may also be included.

  • Movable works: For CONA, movable works include the visual arts and other cultural works that are of the type collected by art museums and special collections, or by an ethnographic, anthropological, or other museum, or owned by a private collector. Examples include paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, manuscripts, photographs, ceramics, textiles, furniture, and other visual media such as frescoes and architectural sculpture, performance art, archaeological artifacts, and various functional objects that are from the realm of material culture and of the type collected by museums. Are monumental works “movable works”? For stained glass windows, architectural sculptures, frescoes, freestanding monumental sculptures, furniture, and such other large works, the works should be cataloged as movable works, because their characteristics (types of artists, materials, designs, etc.) have more in common with movable works than with architecture; such works should be linked to the built work with which they are associated, if any.

  • With the exception of performance art, built works and movable works in CONA are unique physical works. However, CONA may include works that were never built or that no longer exist, for example designs for a building that was not constructed or a work that has been destroyed.

  • Conceptual works: This facet contains records for series as a concept, conceptual records for multiples, records for a conceptual group as for an architectural competition, and other similar records. Physical works, such as prints that belong to a series, may be linked to the conceptual record for the series or other conceptual works.

  • Visual Surrogates: This facet contains records for images and three-dimensional works intended to be surrogates for the works depicted, for example study photographs.

  • Unidentified Named Works: This facet contains records for works described in archival inventories or other sources, but their identity is not established.





What is excluded from CONA?
Although CONA was not intended to focus on objects in natural history or scientific collections, the data model will accomodate these types of works. In fact, such works of particularly fine craftsmanship or beauty may indeed be included in art collections.

CONA does not include records of musical or dramatic art, titles of documentary or feature films, and titles of literature. However, such works may be included in the CONA Iconography Authority, which could link to CONA works that depict or otherwise refer to musical or dramatic art, titles of documentary or feature films, and titles of literature.

CONA does not include records for corporate bodies, although the building that houses the corporate body would be included, even if it has the same name as the corporate body. For example the buildings of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, are included in CONA; however, the corporate body that inhabits those buildings, also called the National Gallery of Art, is outside the scope of CONA (but within scope for ULAN).




Editorial control









Review Process

  • Records are created and edited by the Vocabulary Program editors and trained, established contributors, following the Editorial Rules laid out in this manual.

  • Other records are loaded from data extracted from contributors' cataloging systems or other databases.
  • In the world of Linked Open Data, metadata from other resources may be linked to the CONA records.

  • As time permits, the Vocabulary Program reviews individual records from contributors before they are released in CONA. All contributions are checked, but with less supervision required for trained, established contributors.

  • Vocabulary Program (VP) editors follow strict rules when adding new records to CONA. VP editors edit the contributors' records to comply with VP policy and practice; however, given the large number of records in CONA, editors do not have the time or resources to edit every record. An editorial goal is to have uniform and homogeneous records throughout CONA, but employing flexible standards for contributors' data means that the CONA database as a whole is not entirely consistent or totally uniform.

  • The VP collects new issues that arise during the course of accepting contributions and editing CONA. The resolutions of these issues are periodically transferred to an updated version of the manual.









Does contributors' data follow editorial rules?

  • The Vocabulary Program communicates with and trains potential contributors, to assure that 1) the incoming data will be within the scope of CONA, and 2) the incoming data will be in appropriate format and generally consistent with CONA standards.

  • At the same time, preferences of contributing institutions, particularly owners and repositories, are respected. Repositories typically have existing cataloging rules. However, given that CONA is based on CDWA, which in turn reflects best practice as agreed by numerous and varied museums, archives, libraries, and other institutions, most contributors are already in agreement with CONA editorial rules.

  • Every effort is made to ensure that CONA data is consistent. However, given that CONA may be compiled from various contributors' automated records, it is necessary to allow "flexible standards" in order to accept contributions. Compliance with the critical standards regarding technical rules, structure, content, and editorial guidelines are required; however, certain other content and editorial guidelines are considered non-critical and are therefore not strictly enforced for some contributors.









Releasing the data









Web browsers









Licensed files

  • It is planned that CONA data will be released as Linked Open Data. Options for release are under development..









Vocabulary Coordination System (VCS)

  • VCS is the editorial system used to house and edit the CONA and the three Getty vocabularies. CONA and each vocabulary is stored in a separate iteration of VCS. References to "the system" refer to VCS. References made to "fields" refer to data elements in VCS. References to a "record" or "subject record" refer to an intellectual record comprising all the data linked to a given Subject ID in the data structure (not to be confused with the depicted iconographical "subject").

  • In various fields, CONA is linked to the AAT, TGN, or ULAN.










  • VCS uses a relational database; the database models for each of the four vocabularies are identical in most ways, differing only where necessary. See the Data Dictionary for further information.









Merged Records

  • CONA is compiled from information that has been collected by the Getty and other institutions. When multiple contributors have submitted information about the same work, all the titles and other information about this work should be merged into a single record ("merge" is a function of the VCS editorial system).









Operating VCS

  • The chapters in this manual contain definitions of the fields, suggested values, sources where the values may be found, and rules for entering the data where relevant. The fields are presented roughly in the order in which they are found in VCS.

  • While there is some mention of the functionality of VCS in this manual, detailed instructions for the system are not included here. Instructions regarding how to use VCS are provided during training.

Last updated 3 September 2015 by Patricia Harpring
Document is subject to frequent revisions


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