The CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model (CRM) provides an extensible ontology for concepts and information in cultural heritage and museum documentation. It is the international standard (ISO 21127:2014) for the controlled exchange of cultural heritage information. Galleries, libraries, archives, museums (GLAMs), and other cultural institutions are encouraged to use the CIDOC CRM to enhance accessibility to museum-related information and knowledge.
The CIDOC CRM emerged from the CIDOC Documentation Standards Group in the International Committee for Documentation of the International Council of Museums. Initially, until 1994, the work focused on developing an entity-relationship model for museum information, however, in 1996, the approach shifted to object-oriented modeling methodologies, resulting in the first "CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model (CRM)" in 1999. The process of standardizing the CIDOC CRM began in 2000 and was completed in 2006 with its acceptance as the ISO 21127 standard.
The overall aim of the CIDOC CRM is to provide a reference model and information standard that museums, and other cultural heritage institutions, can use to describe their collections, and related business entities, to improve information sharing.
The CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model (CRM) provides definitions and a formal structure for describing the implicit and explicit concepts and relationships used in cultural heritage documentation...to promote a shared understanding of cultural heritage information by providing a common and extensible semantic framework that any cultural heritage information can be mapped to. It is intended to be a common language for domain experts and implementers to formulate requirements for information systems and to serve as a guide for good practice of conceptual modelling. In this way, it can provide the "semantic glue" needed to mediate between different sources of cultural heritage information, such as that published by museums, libraries and archives.
By adopting formal semantics for the CIDOC CRM, the pre-conditions for machine-to-machine interoperability and integration have been established. Thus, CIDOC CRM is well placed to become an important information standard and reference model for Semantic Web initiatives, and serves as a guide for data, or database, modeling more generally. Technically speaking, CIDOC CRM lends itself to software applications that extensively use XML and RDF. Many cultural heritage institutions are investigating or building applications that use CIDOC CRM.
Following the successful standardization of the CIDOC CRM, a new initiative, FRBRoo, was begun in 2006 to harmonize it with the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR). The aim of this initiative is to "provide a formal ontology intended to capture and represent the underlying semantics of bibliographic information and to facilitate the integration, mediation, and interchange of bibliographic and museum information."
The core classes cover:
Examples of definitions: