CIDOC Guidelines for Museum Object Information: Glossary
This page is part of the International Guidelines for Museum Object Information:
The CIDOC Information Categories. Developed by the International Committee
for Documentation (CIDOC) of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), this
is a description of the Information Categories that can be used when developing
records about the objects in museum collections. For more information about
the Guidelines, turn to the initial page
- The Art and Architecture Thesaurus. Part of the Art History
Information Program of the J. Paul Getty Trust, AAT addresses the need
for a standardized vocabulary of art and architecture terms for use in
bibliographic and visual databases and in the documentation of object
- The formal act of entering an object into the collections of a
museum. Once an object has been accessioned it has a status beyond that
of merely being the property of the organization and can only be
disposed of by referring to the governing body of the organization,
e.g., the Trustees or Director.
- To establish accountability, a museum must demonstrate to auditors,
trustees, governing bodies, and insurers that proper, responsible
management of objects in custody of the museum is taking place. One
important component of accountability is the maintenance of a reliable
and up to date physical inventory of the objects in the institution's
- The transfer of ownership (title) of an object to the organization.
- The Getty Art History Information Program, one of seven operating
programs of the J. Paul Getty Trust.
- A collaborative project of AHIP and the College Art Association,
the Art Information Task Force seeks to develop and promote standards
for documenting works of art.
- An audit is the procedure whereby the physical presence of all
objects in the museum is compared with the documented presence of those
objects in the museum records to enable a museum to be accountable for
every object, at any point in time.
- Authority list
- A list of approved terms enabling information to be recorded in a
controlled manner for ease of entry and retrieval. Types of authority
lists include name authority lists, subject authority lists, and
thesauri. They may include notes on local usage.
- The compilation and maintenance of primary information by
systematically describing objects in the collection, and the arranging
of this information into an object catalog record.
- The International Documentation Committee of the International
Council of Museums.
- The Canadian Heritage Information Network.
- Collections management
- Ensuring the effective documentation, preservation, and access to
objects in a museum collection.
- Data standard
- A statement of what data should be recorded, how data should be
recorded, and how data should be supported by a system in order to
retain its full meaning. A data standard should enable consistency and
predictability in the organization and recording of data, whatever the
type of system or data structure used.
- Data structure
- The way in which sets of data are organized in a particular system.
- The records which document the creation, history, acquisition by
the museum and subsequent history of all objects in a museum collection.
Such records include provenance and provenience documents, acquisition
documents, conservation reports, cataloguing records, images, and
research papers, both created by the holding institution and by previous
owners or independent researchers, etc. Also used for the process of
gathering this information.
- A named subdivision of a record containing a specifically-defined
piece of information within a system, for example "Artist's name,"
"Simple name," "Denomination."
- Free text
- Data which is entered into a field without any formal or
pre-defined strucure other than the normal use of grammar and
- Inventory control
- The process of establishing the physical presence of all objects in
a museum for which that museum has custody and is legally responsible
(including objects in the collection, objects on loan to the museum, and
objects in custody of the museum).
- The International Council of Museums
- The Museum Documentation Association
- An item which forms part of an institution's collections either
permanently (in which case it would be recorded in the accessions
register) or temporarily (e.g., a deposit or loan). For natural science
collections the term "Specimen" is used and in this document the two
terms should be regarded as being interchangeable.
- A group of fields relating to a particular object or transaction.
- See Object
- The operational means by which data is recorded. A system can be
paper-based or computerised.
- Terminology control
- The facility to restrict or monitor the terms or words which may be
used in a specific field.
- Transfer of title
- A legal term to describe the formal process of a change of
ownership of an object from one person or institution to another.
Move to initial page or the next section,
the Format of the Information Groups and Information Categories
file: guideglo.htm; author: CIDOC; updated June 1995