The ADA-Thesaurus is a fundamental tool for the archive. On the one hand, it serves as a keyword system for artists to tag the artworks they are uploading to the collaborative archive. On the other hand, it offers the users the opportunity to semantically explore and discover the ADA collection. It is organized into four color-coded main facets – Aesthetics, Genres, Subjects, and Technology. In the interest of usability, it is limited to approximately 600 terms. Users can browse the controlled vocabulary either hierarchically, alphabetically, or represented as a visual graph, giving them the opportunity to approach the thesaurus in multiple ways. By clicking on individual keywords (in any form of representation), all artworks that have been tagged with the chosen keyword are displayed. On the respective output page, users will also find definitions of the respective terms, links to the same terms in other thesauri and databases (e.g., Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus), as well as associative links to keywords in other facets of the thesaurus, which provides yet another mode of moving through the vocabulary. Moreover, the ADA-Thesaurus is encoded in the machine-readable SKOS format recommended by the Word Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and is available as a download for further use.


The ADA-Thesaurus is based on the Media Art Research Thesaurus, which was implemented as an integral part of the FWF project AT.MAR from 2012 to 2016. It was created from various sources to cover terms from "traditional" art research as well as media art. Hence, authority indexes such as the Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus, Iconclass, or the Warburg Index were used and combined with vocabulary from other established media art databases, media art festivals, and academic literature. The Media Art Research Thesaurus also connects two image databases – ADA and the Graphic Art Collection of the Göttweig Abbey – to support transhistorical and -disciplinary research in image sciences. For the reconciliation of the ADA Thesaurus with other vocabularies, we used the tool OpenRefine and very helpful instructions by Getty Vocabularies (

Copyright notice and use 

The ADA-Thesaurus is made available under the Open Data Commons Attribution License (ODC-By). It contains information from the Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus, which is made available under the ODC Attribution License. It also contains information from Wikidata, which is provided under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. We matched the controlled vocabulary with related terms in the Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus and Wikidata and based the definitions for the terms on these sources. In case of a match with both sources the definition of the Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus was used. In case of no match the definition was added by us. 


The whole ADA-Thesaurus is available as downloadable file. We encourage people to further use the machine-readable file, which is covered under the licence mentioned above.