Harmonization of Nomenclature 4.0 and Parks Canada Descriptive and Visual Dictionary of Objects

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August 2017

The Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN), Parks Canada and the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) have agreed to harmonize (merge) the following two standards:


  • Nomenclature 4.0 for Museum Cataloging – the most important classification and object naming standard used within North American museums (and within commercial collections management systems) for history and ethnology collections. Produced by AASLH, Nomenclature is the most commonly used classification and object naming standard in Canadian museums, although the book is only available in English.
  • Parks Canada Descriptive and Visual Dictionary of Objects (Parks DVD web application) – a bilingual (English/French) adaptation of an early version of Nomenclature. It is much less comprehensive than Nomenclature 4.0, but it is fully bilingual and includes many illustrations and a bibliography. It was built specifically to accommodate the collections of Parks Canada but is also used in other Canadian museums.

View a comparison of Nomenclature 4.0 and the Parks DVD at http://canada.pch.gc.ca/eng/1443538498065.

The full content of the harmonized standard will also be available in French. This harmonization and provision of French equivalents will benefit all users of both Nomenclature and the Parks DVD. It will combine the strengths of both to become a single, bilingual, illustrated standard for all North American museums with history and ethnology collections.

The Nomenclature Task Force (which includes representatives from both Parks Canada and CHIN, among many other organizations) will take on future responsibility for maintaining and developing the harmonized standard. CHIN has received permission from the publisher of Nomenclature (Rowman & Littlefield) to publish the standard online as a free reference tool – Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging.

The new Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging web application (containing the complete Nomenclature 4.0, the harmonized vocabulary from the Parks DVD and new French equivalents) will replace the existing Parks DVD application that CHIN currently hosts. The Parks DVD will remain online for a time, but since it is no longer being updated by Parks Canada, it will eventually be decommissioned.

Parks DVD users that wish to adopt Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging will find a very similar classification system and most of the same terms with which they are familiar from the Parks DVD.  However, some terms have been changed, moved or removed, and there are slight differences in a few of the classifications. In order to help with the transition:

  • Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging will include the ID number from the Parks DVD for terms and classifications, and these numbers will be searchable. You will be able to use these numbers to locate Parks terms within the new system.
  • CHIN will make available a mapping tool between the classifications of the Parks DVD and the new harmonized standard.

The new harmonized standard Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging is expected to be launched in 2018.  Please contact heather.dunn@canada.ca or madeleine.lafaille@canada.ca for more information.

>> Version française

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One Response to Harmonization of Nomenclature 4.0 and Parks Canada Descriptive and Visual Dictionary of Objects

  1. Susan Carter says:

    Thank you!

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