January 21, 2022

Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names Released as Linked Open Data, Two Million Names of Current and Historical Places

One of our favorite reference resources is now available as LOD.

From the Getty Research Institute (via The Iris)

We’re delighted to announce that the Getty Research Institute has released the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN) as Linked Open Data. This represents an important step in the Getty’s ongoing work to make our knowledge resources freely available to all.

Following the release of the Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT)in February, TGN is now the second of the four Getty vocabularies to be made entirely free to download, share, and modify. Both data sets are available for download at vocab.getty.edu under an Open Data Commons Attribution License (ODC BY 1.0).


The Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names is a resource of over 2,000,000 names of current and historical places, including cities, archaeological sites, nations, and physical features. It focuses mainly on places relevant to art, architecture, archaeology, art conservation, and related fields.

TGN is powerful for humanities research because of its linkages to the three other Getty vocabularies—the Union List of Artist Names, the Art & Architecture Thesaurus, and the Cultural Objects Name Authority. Together the vocabularies provide a suite of research resources covering a vast range of places, makers, objects, and artistic concepts. The work of three decades, the Getty vocabularies are living resources that continue to grow and improve.

Because they serve as standard references for cataloguing, the Getty vocabularies are also the conduits through which data published by museums, archives, libraries, and other cultural institutions can find and connect to each other.


To show how Linked Open Data from TGN can enhance research, let’s take the single example of Ellora Caves in Maharashtra, India, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famed for its astonishing rock-cut architecture. TGN contains not only the caves’ location but also their geographical hierarchy, variant names in multiple languages, and the religious traditions represented there. Now imagine that this data is linked to other data—such as maps, books and articles, and photographs depicting this location. A vast trove of interrelated resources, currently only findable individually through manual search using variant spellings, becomes click away.

Within the Getty alone, in a future Linked Open Data world multiple resources could be interlinked: a digitized volume from the early 1800s from the special collections of the Getty Research Institute; art historically significant early photographs of the site by English, French, and Indian photographers in the collection of the Getty Museum; and multiple publications from the Getty Conservation Institute including an update on conservation efforts.

Read the Complete Blog Post

Direct to Getty Research Institute Linked Open Data Web Site

See Also: Getty Research Institute Releases “Art and Architecture Thesaurus” as Linked Open Data (February 20, 2014)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.