The museum world is full of abbreviations and acronyms. This page is intended to provide an alphabetical list that explains very briefly what different abbreviations mean, with further links to more detailed pages in the Encyclopaedia, where they exist.


  • AAM: American Association of Museums
  • ACE: Arts Council England, the quango (q.v.) responsible for museums in the UK
  • AAT:Art and Architecture Thesaurus, a vocabulary for describing cultural objects and their contexts, maintained by the Getty Research Institute
  • AIA: Archaeological Institute of America



  • CCO: Cataloging Cultural Objects, a standard for cataloguing cultural objects
  • CDWA: Categories for the Description of Works of Art, a standard for cataloguing works of art
  • CDWALite: CDWA Lite, a standard for cataloguing works of art, a lightweight, XML (q.v.)-based version of CDWA (q.v.)
  • CHIN: Canadian Heritage Information Network
  • CIDOC: Comité international pour la documentation, the international committee of ICOM (q.v.) with responsibility for Documentation
  • CIDOC-CRM: The CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model
  • CIMI: (Standards Framework for the) Computer Interchange of Museum Information
  • CMS: Collections Management System, usually used to describe a computerised system that combines a catalogue with other functions that help manage a collection; but note that outside museums, 'CMS' is more likely to refer to a Content Management System, usually a system that aims to make the creation and maintenance of complex websites easier by automating the organisation of data and actual creation of HTML (q.v.) pages
  • CONA: Cultural Objects Name Authority, a vocabulary of cultural objects' names, maintained by the Getty Research Institute


  • DC: Dublin Core
  • DCMS: the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the UK government department which had responsibility for museums before it was superseded by:
  • DDCMS: the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the UK government department which has responsibility for museums


  • EAD: Encoded Archival Description, an XML (q.v.)-based data standard for encoding a description of an archival collection
  • EDM: Europeana Data Model, a DC (q.v.) and XML (q.v.)-based data standard used to deliver data to the Europeana aggregator


  • FRBR: Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records, a standard for the creation of bibliographic records


  • GLAM: Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (or in Oxford, Gardens, Libraries, And Museums) (because of course our sector is glamorous!)
  • GND: Gemeinsame Normdatei


  • HTML: HyperText Markup Language, the core language used to create web pages - and interlink them as hypertext


  • ICCD: Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo e la Documentazione
  • ICCROM: International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property
  • ICOM: the International Council Of Museums, the main international body supporting the development and work of museums; its sub-committees include CIDOC (q.v.)
  • ISAD(G) [link]: International Standard for Archival Description (General), a standard for the description of archival collections
  • IIIF: International Image Interoperability Framework, a standard for sharing images and their metadata
  • ISIL: International Standard Identifier for Libraries and Related Organizations
  • ISO5127: ISO 5127:2017, an international vocabulary for information and documentation
  • ISO18923: ISO 18923:2000, an international standard for the storage of polyester-base magnetic tape
  • ISO18933: ISO 18933:2012, an international standard for the care and handling of magnetic tape


  • JSON: JavaScript Object Notation, a flexible language for sructuring digital information, often used to exchange data between systems



  • LCSH: Library of Congress Subject Headings, the headings used by the Library of Congress to subject-index its holdings, also used by many other libraries and institutions
  • LIDO: Lightweight Information Describing Objects, an XML (q.v.)-based data standard for sharing information about museum collections
  • LOD: Linked Open Data, the principle of linking individual pieces of information (rather than whole pages) together over the internet to create what used to be known as 'Web 3.0' or the 'Semantic Web', enabling computers to augment information and even reason about data more effectively


  • MARC: MAchine-Readable Cataloguing, a long-standing data standard for recording bibliographic and related information (of which MARC 21 is one flavour)
  • MIDAS: Marburger Informations-, Dokumentations- und Administrations-System
  • MIDAS: Monument Inventories DAta Standard, a data standard for recording information about monuments and the built environment
  • MODS: Metadata Object Description Schema




  • PAS197: British Standards Institution Publicly Available Specification 197:2009, Code of Practice for Cultural Collections Management


  • Quango: QUasi-Autonomous Non-GOvernmental body


  • RDF: Resource Description Framework, a framework for modelling data that is shared over the internet, fundamental to LOD (q.v.)


  • SHIC: Social History and Industrial Classification, a vocabulary for describing cultural heritage objects related to social history and industry
  • SKOS: Simple Knowledge Organisation System


  • TGN: Thesaurus of Geographic Names, , a vocabulary of place names, maintained by the Getty Research Institute
  • TMA: Too Many Abbreviations, which, having read this far, you probably now feel


  • ULAN: Union List of Artist Names, a vocabulary of the names of artists, former owners, and other art-related people and organisations, maintained by the Getty Research Institute


  • VIAF: Virtual International Authority File, a vocabulary combining multiple organisations' name authority files into a single online resource, available as LOD (q.v.)
  • VRACore: Visual Resources Association Core, a data standard for describing works of visual culture, and images of them



  • XML: eXtensible Markup Language, a flexible and self-documenting language which can be used to structure digital information



  • Z39.50, a longstanding protocol for exchanging bibliographic data between computers

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