After many years of development, the Getty Research Institute has finally begun to roll out its newest online vocabulary, the Cultural Objects Name Authority (CONA). It joins the Getty’s other vocabularies–the Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT), the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN), and the Union List of Artist Names (ULAN)–all of which have become standard reference tools for cataloguers of works of art.
The aim of CONA is even more ambitious than those of its fellow vocabularies. Whereas the scope of AAT was limited to art historical terms, TGN to place names, and ULAN to artists, CONA will eventually include (in theory, at least) an authoritative record for every work of art and architecture ever created.
As you can imagine, this is a massive undertaking that will require many more years of work. Right now there are only about 1000 records in CONA, and these draw heavily from the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, with works like Van Gogh’s Irises. There are also records for some of the major landmarks of world architecture, like the Pantheon and Taj Mahal. The total number of records is still small enough that you will probably have more success exploring CONA by browsing rather than searching. But regardless of its current limitations, for the first time we are getting a glimpse of what will soon become one of the most important metadata resources.