THE GETTY VOCABULARIES
J. Paul Getty was an America industrialist who made his fortune in the oil business. He made his first million at age 25 in 1916, and later became the world’s first billionaire. Getty viewed art as a civilizing influence in society, and strongly believed in making art available to the public for its education and enjoyment. To that end, he created an art museum in Los Angeles, California, and established the J.Paul Getty Trust, commonly referred to as the Getty. The Getty includes four branches: the Getty Museum, a research institute, a conservation institute, and a foundation. In the 1980 the Getty discovered a need within the art research community. Researchers lacked a common vocabulary with to discuss art and artists work. Establishing a scientific vocabulary with which to describe artwork, style, and technique would allow the study and appreciation of art-work to flourish. To meet this need, the Getty created and published the Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) in 1990. The three-volume tome, which includes a thesaurus of geographic names and the Union List of Artist Names, has become a priceless resource for art historical research. It provides tools, standards, and best practices for documenting works of art, just as the Library of Congress provides a standard cataloging tool for libraries. However, the massive AAT is difficult to search and is expensive to edit and update. Recognizing that a digital version of the resource would provide many benefits, the Getty recently began porting the AAT and associated volumes into a database that can be electronically searched and edited over the web. To do so, the Getty had to first select a database technology in which to house the information, and a DBMS for use in searching and editing the contents. One challenge of building an online AAT was that the various components of the resource were stored using different proprietary technologies. The first week was to...
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