Visual Resources Association ( VRA ) Core Categories

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Transcript Visual Resources Association ( VRA ) Core Categories

Visual Resources
Association (VRA) Core
Group Six
Dana Carter, Kristen Holdman-Ross,
Molly Masse, Steve Rinker, Kristin
Introduction to VRA
“VRA Core 4.0 is a data standard for the
cultural heritage community that was
developed by the Visual Resources
Association's Data Standards Committee. It
consists of a metadata element set (units of
information such as title, location, date,
etc.), as well as an initial blueprint for how
those elements can be hierarchically
Introduction to VRA
The element set provides a categorical
organization for the description of works of
visual culture as well as the images that
document them.”
VRA Core website,
History of VRA Core
► In
1968 visual resources curators met at the
College Art Association (CAA) conferences
► Wanted
to formalize their group within
College Art Association.
► However,
nothing came of this intent and
they remained a committee.
History of VRA Core
► Another
group formed at the Art Libraries
Society of North America (ARLIS/NA)
conferences in the early 1970s.
► This
group was also involved in visual
resources management.
History of VRA Core
► 1972
Southeastern College Art Conference (SEAC)
and the Mid-America College Art Association
► Group created workshops on visual resources
 Topics
► slide
room management
► standards of VR management
► Newsletter
called“International Bulletin for
Photographic Documentation of the Visual Arts.”
History of VRA Core
► In
1980 Visual Resource Curators active in
CAA and ARLIS/NA collaborated and
formalized their association with one
another by creating bylaws for their
organization and electing officers.
► The
first formal meeting of the VRA was
held at the CAA conference of 1983.
Core Categories History
► Core
Categories were developed after
research by the Data Standards Committee
of the VRA determined that documentation
for works of art needed to be standardized.
► In
1995 the elements needed to be included
when describing works of art were debated.
Core Categories History
► In
1996 “The Core Categories for Visual
Resources, Version 1.0 (published in the Fall
1996 issue of the VRA Bulletin and on the
VRA website).”
Core 4.0 was released on April 9,
Definition of VRA Core 4.0
► “A
data standard for the cultural heritage
community” by the Visual Resources
Association’s website
► It
is a metadata scheme “used to describe
works of art and visual culture, as well as
the images that document it”.
VRA Core 4.0 Goals
“Facilitating the sharing of records for
artwork and images between institutions
and databases through standardization of
► Using VRA Core 4.0 ensures that there is
uniformity and consistency between the
records or descriptions of various works,
 whether they are produced at different
 or by different catalogers
 or unrelated works.
VRA Core 4.0 Components
consists of a metadata element set
 standardized units of information about any
given piece of artwork or image
► And
a framework for hierarchically
structuring those elements.
VRA Core 4.0 Data Elements
► 19
different data elements or categories
► Examples include:
VRA Core 4.0 Sub-Elements
23 different sub-elements
 21 relate specifically to only one element
► Example:
Sub-element for agent
dates (attribute =type)
earliestDate (circa)
latestDate (circa)
name (attribute = type)
 2 can be used on any element
► Display
► Note
 Some sub-elements also have attributes that further modify data.
Global Attributes
global attributes that can be applied to any
element or sub-element as necessary.
Element Order
► Elements
are listed in alphabetical order
 Except for the top level element which is listed
top level element must be work, collection, or
►It distinguishes whether the record is referring to
 an actual object,
 a collection of objects,
 or a visual surrogate or image of a work
Completed Structure
► Put
it all together, this is what the hierarchical
structure looks like for the “agent” element of a
 Agent
► Attribution
► Culture
► dates
 earliestDate (circa)
 latestDate(circa)
► name
Element Flexibility
► No
single element is strictly required in any
given record, nor do they all have to be
used, however,
► Providing
the basic who, what, when,
where, how, and subject at minimum is
strongly suggested (Eklund), if known.
Restricted vs. Unrestricted Versions
► The
unrestricted allows any value or words
to be input in the type attribute and is
recommended for local cataloging
► The
restricted requires controlled values
(wording) and date formats to be input in
the record.
► There
have been several versions of the
VRA Core Categories prior to the current 4.0
► One of the major changes from past
versions and a very important characteristic
of VRA Core 4.0 is that it has been designed
to be expressed or encoded in XML.
► This is to further enable record sharing and
About XML
► Extensive
Markup Language may seem
► XML is a non-proprietary text-based
encoding system similar to HTML.
► While HTML is about displaying information,
XML is about describing information
structure and meaning.
► XML schema files are flexible. A file may be
as strict or as lax as needed.
Among encoding and metadata standards, VRA Core is
similar to CDWA, another metadata standard used for
cultural heritage objects, art, and images.
ALA describes it as “the mother of all metadata” for art
materials in a 1999 Networked Resources & Metadata
Committee Situation Report.
It stands for Categories for the Description of Art Work and
was created by the Art Information Task Force in the
CDWA has 532 categories and sub-categories and seems
to be a much larger system with more general applications
than VRA, which is specifically designed for the sharing of
visual resource records.
► To
make the best use of VRA Core 4.0, it
must be used in conjunction with tools for
standardizing data contents and data values
within the records.
► Data value standards dictate what terms to
use to describe an item and data contents
standards are rules for how to format and
organize those words.
Data Value Standards
► Data
value standards that are used with
VRA Core 4.0 include
 Union List of Artist Names (ULAN),
 the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
 Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT).
 Library of Congress authority files are used as
► Here
are some examples of records created
using VRA Core 4.0, provided by the VRA on
► This
is what the XML coding would look like
for the record of Goya’s Los Caprichos
► This
is how it might display in a database:
Uses of VRA
► The
Core is divided up into different
sections or Sets.
► These Sets consist of elements & subelements. These sets allow for the recording
of multiple values so if there are multiple
artists, or multiple media used, they can all
be included.
Data Standards
► Cataloging
Cultural Objects: A Guide to
Describing Cultural Works and Their Images
 provides consistent data content to produce
more effective data exchange.
 tells the user how to populate the different
fields in the Core.
 VRA established the fields and the CCO tells you
what data to enter into the fields.
Getty Union List of Artists Names
► Resource
to use to provide consistency when
populating the creator field. It supplies
 the artist’s or manufacturer’s name (including any
spelling variants),
 dates (birth, death, work span, etc.),
 role (painter, sculptor, artist, etc. and specifies
preferred role),
 gender,
 other pertinent info.
Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT)
► Same
as ULAN except it provides the proper
terminology for things like
 work type (paintings, tables, lamps, armchairs),
 creator role (painter, sculptor),
 material (oil, glass, etc).
► It
allows for more specificity with
terminology while creating a consistent
Thesaurus of Geographic Names
► Again
the same as ULAN & AAT but for
geographic names, ie. Chicago, London, etc.
Who Uses the Core
► Museums
& Academic Institutions
► Creates a more reputable & thorough
setting for accessing images & image
content than a public source like Google
► Many institutions keep their databases
password protected.
Could be Used for Record Sharing
► Images
are endless
► Wouldn’t be able to tailor to individual
► Can choose the order in which the info will
► Wouldn’t be able to choose what info to
include in description and notes fields based
on what user needs to know
► Cataloging mistakes & variations are also
Capa’s Portrait of Picasso
Joseph Beuys “How to Explain
Pictures to a Dead Hare”
Beuys: I Like America and America
Likes Me
► The
description of anything visual can be
► Our perceptions are highly individualized.
► VRA Core exists to provide an appropriate
and hopefully inclusive means of describing
original art, images, photographs,
architecture, fashion, and even performance
Janice Ecklund Quotation
“Cultural works are as individual as the artists
who create them and the scholars who write
about them,” according to Janice Eklund a
member of the VRA Data Standards
Committee work group. “And this also
extends to the descriptive metadata that
has been recorded and published about
► Much
of the information recorded about
cultural works is scholarly opinion.
► Information
professionals must record this
information for effective retrieval in a
compatible computer environment without
compromising any nuanced artistic and
scholarly content.
► Since
the introduction of VRA Core 1.0 in
1996, three upgrades have been released:
► Core 2.0, published in 1998;
► Core 3.0, published in 2002;
► Core 4.0 Beta, published in 2005; and the
► Core 4.0, published in 2007.
► Each subsequent core has built upon its
► The
mapping of Core 1.0 was influenced by
other standards such as MARC and the
Getty-sponsored “Categories for the
Description of Works of Art, “ or CDWA.
► The first core was more or less a “rough
draft” without any real sense of how the
elements might interact in application.
► This led to a more sophisticated scheme in
2.0 including more descriptors.
► Effective
data exchange emerged as a
primary reason for revising the VRA Core.
► Digital technology also impacted the way
many analog slide and picture collections
were being managed.
► Varying data structures and content rules
made mapping data to VRA Core 3.0
categories inconsistent and problematic.
sponsored the development of the
Cataloging Cultural Objects (CCO) project.
► The CCO is a guide to describing cultural
works and their images.
► Out of this also came the emergence of
Extensible Markup Language (XML) as the
data exchange format of choice.
► The XML expression became an effective
way to merge image metadata from
different library collections.
Janice Ecklund Quotation
Ecklund explains, “The local image data could be
mapped to the VRA Core and tagged according to
XML schema developed expressly for the VRA
Core. The XML schema emerged as a logical
extension of the revised VRA Code and a vital
component in reaching the goal of using the Core
as an effective mechanism for data exchange.
…The XML VRA Core, coupled with CCO brings us
closer to the goal of a shared cataloging
environment for visual resources.”
Advantages of VRA Core
► Provides
a basic element set to consider
when designing descriptive metadata fields
for a database model.
► It has “the potential to be both a point of
departure and a common destination for
image collection managers who (wish) to
administer their data locally, and export it
for discovery in a larger resource or
Advantages of VRA Core
► The
greatest challenge found in shared
collections was the inconsistent data
content and submission format.
► Thus, the goal became to develop a format
where different collections with varying
descriptive structures could map their data
to a common set of core elements.
Changes from 3.0 to 4.0
► Because
many visual resource collections had
adapted Core 3.0, it was decided the next version
should remain as close to the 3.0 model as much
as possible.
► Rather than re-invent the VRA Core, revisions
were made with the intention to make data values
contained in the existing elements more specific
while providing a means in which an XML schema
could be introduced.
Changes from 3.0 to 4.0
► The
► The
XML interface is a vital addition
latest version of the Core is laden with
many bells and whistles. However, they are
there only if needed. He uses a visual
paradigm to compare past and present
Ben Kessler Quotation
► “(The)
earlier versions of the VRA Core might look
something like an antique secretary with its
sequence of cubbyholes built to hold objects of
varying sizes, but fundamentally inert in structure.
By contrast, VRA Core 4.0 might be envisioned as
something like a fancy picnic hamper, with its
highly specified functionality --- an efficient
carrying case for the complex sets of data visual
resources professionals deal with every day.”
N. Ebersole, personal communication, July 10, 2009.
Ecklund, J. (2007). Herding cats: CCO, XML, and the VRA
core. Visual Resources Association Bulletin, (Spring) 34:1.
p. 45-68.
Kessler, B. (2007). Encoding works and images: the story
behind the VRA core 4.0. Visual Resources Association
Bulletin, (Spring) 34:1. p. 20-33.
VRA Core Introduction (2007). Retrieved 16 July 2009 from
Visual Resources Association (2007) Retrieved 16 July
2009 from