Standards and guidelines

What is a standard?

The British Standards Institution (BSI), the world’s oldest standards setting organisation, says :

“In essence, a standard is an agreed way of doing something. It could be about making a product, managing a process, delivering a service or supplying materials – standards can cover a huge range of activities undertaken by organizations and used by their customers.
Standards are the distilled wisdom of people with expertise in their subject matter and who know the needs of the organizations they represent – people such as manufacturers, sellers, buyers, customers, trade associations, users or regulators.”

Think of delivery, interoperability, access! Below is a list of the standards that CIDOC recommends and supports for museum documentation.

Statement of principles of Museum Documentation (2012)
Important guidelines and policies for museum documentation and collection management.

English, French, Portuguese

Statement of Linked Data identifiers for museum objects (2012)
Best practices for application of linked data URIs for museums.

The CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model (CRM) (ISO 21127)
A formal ontology intended to facilitate the integration, mediation and interchange of heterogeneous cultural heritage information. Current version (7.1), 2021 (en) (fr – French version available as ISO21127)


CIDOC International Guidelines for Museum Object Information: The CIDOC Information Categories (en) (fr) (es) (pt)

English, Spanish, French, Portuguese

LIDO (Lightweight Information for Describing Objects) (V.1.0 – 2010 | V1.1 Public Beta – 2020)
An XML harvesting schema intended for delivering metadata for use in a variety of online services.

Exhibition Object Data Exchange Model (EODEM) (V1.00 – 2023)
A LIDO profile designed to provide a framework that enables museum databases to export objects’ data from one system at the press of a button, and import the data into another system at the press of a button.

Object ID
An international standard for describing cultural objects in case of loss or theft.

Introduction to Metadata
A detailed overview of metadata, its usefulness and necessity for museums on the web. Third edition, 2012.

Spectrum 5.0
A collection management standard in 21 procedures, used by institutions around the world.

CDWA (Categories for the Description of Works of Art)
Guidelines for the description of art, architecture, and other cultural works. Current version, 2016.

An XML schema for describing core records for art, architecture, and other cultural works.

CCO (Cataloging Cultural Objects) (2006)
Standard for creating descriptions and retrieving information about cultural objects.

Encyclopedia of Museum Practice
Evolving, online encyclopedia of concepts related to museum practice in multiple languages, from many authors.

Introduction to Controlled Vocabularies (2013)
Online publication defining the characteristics, scope, and uses of controlled vocabularies for art and cultural materials.

ISO 25964: Information and documentation – Thesauri and interoperability with other vocabularies, Pts 1-2 (2011-2013)
International standards describing the construction and use of thesauri and other vocabularies.

ISO 18461: International Museum Statistics (2016)
International standard describing the methods of compiling museum statistics (including listing relevant museum objects).

CIDOC Fact Sheet 3 – Recommendations for shooting identity photographs (2010)

English, French, Spanish

CIDOC Fact Sheet 2 – Labeling and marking objects (1994)

English, French, Spanish

CIDOC Fact Sheet 1 – Registration step by step (1993)

English, French, Spanish

Guidelines in several languages for the selection of digital heritage for long term preservation.
French, Dutch, Arabic, Lithuanian, Spanish, Serbian, Chinese

UNESCO 2015 Recommendation
Recommendations concerning the protection, promotion, and primary functions of museums and collections.

ICOM’s list of standards
An aggregation of guidelines and standards from ICOM’s various committees