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The data was last refreshed on: 2024-06-10


Nomenclature API and reconciliation service now available

April 2024

The Nomenclature API is now available to allow easier integration with museum collections management software. It includes the 13 most common Nomenclature use cases (e.g. find all the data about a single concept, find all the labels for a concept, search for a term, etc.) which can be used by software developers without having to understand the semantic model. Information on API request parameters and response schema is available in the API documentation. Museums are encouraged to speak with their software vendor to request implementation or update of Nomenclature within their collections management software, to assist with and control data entry and to enhance search.

The API also includes a reconciliation service which allows museums to reconcile and enrich their data with Nomenclature using external data integration tools that follow the reconciliation service API protocol, such as OpenRefine, a free, open source tool for data cleaning, transformation and enhancement. A semiautomated process can suggest matches between a museum’s object name data and Nomenclature vocabulary. Once matches are established, Nomenclature IDs, terms, definitions, etc. can be added into the museum’s data.

New subclasses added for accessories and components

October 2023

Nomenclature has updated its approach to the handling of accessories and object components. Although some accessories and parts of objects have previously been included in Nomenclature, they are now categorized more consistently. Numerous subclasses have been added to accommodate accessories and components (for example, “Rail Transportation Accessories & Components” and “Musical Accessories & Components”). For more information, see the section on “Object components, accessories, and fragments” under “Tricky cataloging cases” in the Nomenclature User Guide.

Nomenclature SPARQL endpoint and other LOD features now available

April 2023

The Nomenclature website has offered the ability to download the dataset in a variety of formats (including linked data formats) since 2020. In order to make it easier for Nomenclature to be incorporated into museum collections management software and other applications, a SPARQL endpoint is now available from the Integration page of the Nomenclature website. New features also include a semantic resource view, full dataset and per-entity RDF downloads, and content negotiation. For example, for concept “chair” (id:1090) :

Full documentation of the semantic model is available, and sample queries (available as “saved queries” within the SPARQL tab of the endpoint) provide some useful examples to get you started. We plan to offer an API later in 2023.

Nomenclature LOD evolution

March 2023

Nomenclature will be evolving to a more robust LOD (Linked Open Data) ecosystem. The domain name will represent the space of LOD data itself, whereas the current web page's domain name will be changed to This change will have no impact for most users of the website. Users that have bookmarked concept web pages (e.g. will be redirected. For users that have been accustomed to using the concept URIs (e.g. to access the concept web page, some adjustment will be needed.

While Nomenclature concept URIs will not change, and will redirect you to the web application, on 2023-03-20, the following changes will occur:

Preferred terms in lower case

February 2023

Although Nomenclature historically capitalized preferred terms (all words in English, and the initial word in French), the Nomenclature Committee decided to adopt the convention of lowercase for preferred terms at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels. This decision was made for several reasons:

Note that certain terms containing proper names or acronyms (for example, “A-frame,” “Van Slyke apparatus,” and “3D printer”) will retain their capital letters as required.

Nomenclature User Interface Improvements

June 2022

Two improvements have been made to the Nomenclature website, as a result of feedback from Nomenclature users:

International project on Toys and Games

June 2022

The Canadian Nomenclature Committee recently participated in an international thesaurus working group focused on multilingual (English, Dutch, and French) terminology and definitions for terms within the toys and games hierarchy. This project resulted in the addition of many toy definitions to Nomenclature. The Dutch terms will soon be added to the Art & Architecture Thesaurus.

Nomenclature terminology updates

March 2022

A list of significant changes that have been made since Nomenclature was published online in 2018 can be found on the “Updates” page in the “History of Changes” section. Highlights of Nomenclature development over the past few years include:

Review the “History of Changes” section to see what's new in Nomenclature!

Nomenclature bibliography improvements

November 2020

The Nomenclature bibliography has been enhanced with the addition of links to full-text online versions of many reference materials relating to general and specific types of objects. Organized following the Nomenclature category and class hierarchy, the bibliography can be used by museums to facilitate research and cataloging.

Concept-specific bibliographic references have been added for many Nomenclature terms added since 2019, and these can be viewed within the full record display. For example, see the “Bibliographic citation” field in the “Girder” record.

The bibliography is a work in progress that will be enhanced as new concepts are added to Nomenclature, or as older ones are revised. To submit a recommendation for inclusion in the bibliography, please use the Submission form.

Nomenclature concept display embedded in your Website

September 2020

You can now embed a view of the Nomenclature concepts within your own online tools, using stylesheets (CSS) to match the look and layout of your own web pages. For information on how to use this feature, see the Integration page.

Natural Order for Nomenclature Display

September 2020

Throughout its long history as a print resource, multi-word preferred terms within the English version of Nomenclature for Museum Cataloguing were presented in inverted order (e.g. Chair, Rocking) instead of natural order (Rocking Chair). Inverted order served to group like items together alphabetically in the printed book index. Since the launch of the online version of Nomenclature in 2018, inverted order continued to be offered as the default display (with option to toggle to natural order).

Beginning in late 2020 or early 2021, the Nomenclature website will use the natural order as the primary display for multi-word terms. This change should have minimal practical impact on Nomenclature users (although it is acknowledged that many users have become accustomed over many years to the inverted display order). There is no need for museums that are using inverted order to switch to natural order. Inverted order will remain a completely valid version of the preferred term, and will continue to be:

The inverted order terms will also be available via the future Nomenclature SPARQL endpoint and APIs.

The change to natural order as the primary Nomenclature display is being undertaken for several reasons:

It is hoped that this transition will have minimal impact for museums that use Nomenclature, but will simplify the nomenclature web presentation and services while facilitating coordination and matching with other complementary controlled vocabularies.

For more information, please contact CHIN.

Nomenclature matched with other vocabularies

March 2020

Thanks to the editorial staff at the Getty Vocabulary Program, all concepts in Nomenclature are now matched (co-referenced) with concepts in the Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT). Each Nomenclature concept now has an AAT identification number, and Nomenclature identification numbers have been added to the AAT concepts. The Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) is using these matches to match Nomenclature concepts with other vocabulary sources that have AAT co-references.

The work of matching Nomenclature concepts to Wikidata has also started. An automated match using the Wikidata Mix'n'match tool resulted in approximately 40% of Nomenclature concepts being matched. We are seeking volunteers to help continue this work. For more information on how to get involved, please contact CHIN or consult Mix'n'match/Manual.

As of March 2020, the quantities of matched concepts in Nomenclature were as follows:

Matches will be increased and improved over time. All of the co-references to external vocabulary sources appear as links in Nomenclature under the Other references to this concept tab in the record for a particular concept.

Additional formats for downloading Nomenclature

March 2020

Several new options for downloading Nomenclature have been added to the Integration page.

Descriptive information about Nomenclature

March 2020

Machine-readable information describing the Nomenclature dataset and ontology has now been provided to allow semantic agents to more easily find, register, summarize, analyze and consume Nomenclature linked open data. Information on Nomenclature's content, structure, licensing, access, properties and classes, as well as basic statistics are included. Consult the Integration page for more information.

Nomenclature as open data

January 2020

Nomenclature is now freely available in a number of formats! Previously only available for purchase or as a reference website, Nomenclature is now available as Open Data.

It is available in the following formats:

The Canadian Heritage Information Network is working to open a SPARQL endpoint and an API – watch for news on these options in the future.

See the Integration page on the Nomenclature site for available options.

Per-entity RDF embedded in Nomenclature's HTML pages

January 2020

Each concept page in Nomenclature has the RDF for that concept embedded as JSON-LD in the HTML header for the page. This per-entity RDF can be used by semantic web crawlers, and can provide Nomenclature data to the web services of other cultural heritage datastores that have embedded Nomenclature URIs.

Information on the data model for Nomenclature is found on the Integration page of the Nomenclature site.

New concepts added to Nomenclature

January 2020

Nomenclature is now continuously updated, and is not published in versions. Since the publication of the last paper volume (Nomenclature 4.0) in 2015, the Nomenclature Task Force has been updating its process for reviewing terms that are submitted by the museum community as candidate terms for Nomenclature. Since Nomenclature is now a bilingual resource that includes Canadian variants, a separate Canadian Task Force for Nomenclature has been created to ensure that French terminology and Canadianisms are added. A large backlog of submitted terms has now been approved in both English and French, and added to Nomenclature.

To see what changes and additions have been made to Nomenclature since Nomenclature 4.0 in 2015, see the History of Changes section on the Nomenclature website.

New Canadian Task Force for Nomenclature launched

November 2019

The Canadian Task Force for Nomenclature (CTFN) is a new sub-group of the Nomenclature Task Force. The CTFN will be responsible for ensuring that

The Canadian Task Force for Nomenclature currently consists of the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) and Parks Canada staff with specialized Nomenclature experience and 10 Canadian museum representatives, representing various regions and linguistic profiles. Members are appointed for a one-year period, which can be extended.

If you have a working knowledge of the Nomenclature system and are interested in being a part of the Canadian Task Force for Nomenclature, please contact CHIN.

Art & Architecture Thesaurus matched to Nomenclature

November 2019

A project to co-reference Nomenclature and the Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) is in progress through a collaboration with the Getty Research Institute's Getty Vocabulary Program. This project has the following benefits for users of both the AAT and Nomenclature :

Editorial staff at the Getty Vocabulary Program have undertaken the co-referencing of the two vocabularies. Many matches have already been established, and more will be added over time.

CHIN plans to add links to matching concepts in other vocabularies over time, particularly French sources.

Autocomplete suggestions

October 2019

Users can now access a list of autocomplete term suggestions based on the letters you type in the search box. This new feature facilitates and speeds up searches by suggesting terms in Nomenclature that correspond to the letters entered.

As soon as you type three letters in the Search field, the system looks for all entries containing those three letters among preferred and alternative terms in English and French, and displays them in a drop-down menu below the Search field. Simply select the desired term from the list and click the Search button.

For example, if you are looking for the term “cement mixer”, as soon as you type the three first letters “cem”, a list of four terms will be displayed :

As illustrated, Nomenclature recommends the use of “Mixer, Concrete” as the preferred term, and this term appears in the list even though it does not include the letters “cem.” This is because the terms “cement mixer” and “mixer, cement” are associated with it as alternative terms.

Note that the suggestions display according to the language selected for the user interface. When searching for “cem” in the French interface, the terms displayed in the list are in French :

The order in which suggested terms display depends on the user's selection for term order and linguistic variant.

User guidelines for the transition from the Parks Canada classification system to Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging

September 2019

Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging has now replaced the Parks Canada Descriptive and Visual Dictionary of Objects (Parks DVD). Parks DVD users who transition to Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging will find the new classification system very similar, with most of the same terms. However, some terms have been changed, moved or removed, and there are slight differences in a few of the classifications. To help with the transition, the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) has prepared the web resource User guidelines for the transition from the Parks Canada classification system to Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging. As well, the term and classification ID numbers from the Parks DVD are included in Nomenclature, and these numbers are searchable. Use these numbers to locate Parks terms in the new system. CHIN has also kept the original files from the Parks DVD, as archived in 2016, in Excel format. They are available upon request.

Canadian term variants added to Nomenclature website

November 2018

Users can now toggle between International and Canadian term variants. A few Canadian terms already exist in Nomenclature (for example, the English-Canadian spelling of “Armour” and the French-Canadian term “Godendard”), and more will be added in time. Suggestions for Canadian variants can be submitted to the Canadian Task Force for Nomenclature by contacting CHIN.

Other features will be added in future – stay tuned for news!

Launch of “Beta” version of Nomenclature

September 2018

The Nomenclature Task Force of the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) , the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) and Parks Canada have collaborated to produce this new bilingual, illustrated online version of Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging! This website is the most up-to-date version of the Nomenclature standard and includes:

This fully bilingual, illustrated version of Nomenclature allows museums to search for terms or browse through the classification hierarchy in English or French.

The Nomenclature Task Force will continue to develop and maintain the Nomenclature standard in consultation with museums that use it. Updates will be included on a routine basis in the online resource, allowing organizations to stay current with the standard in a more timely fashion.

CHIN plans to release the Nomenclature data as linked open data under an Open Data Commons “Attribution” license in 2020, which will mean that Nomenclature data will be free to download and use at that time.

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History of changes

This table includes only the most significant changes that were made to Nomenclature since July 31, 2018 (including created, moved, merged, or deleted concepts and changes to preferred term in any language). Changes to alternative terms, definitions, notes, bibliographic references, links to other LOD sources, etc. are not included.

The filter searches both languages in order to provide an identical result in French and English.

You can download an extract of history of significant changes that were made to the database (JSON format or CSV format). Refer to the semantic model documentation for concept history.

History of changes with bilingual filter
Resource Event Date - Time

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