Object ID Checklist


In 1993, the Getty Information Institute initiated a collaboration project to develop an international documentation standard for the information needed to identify cultural objects. The new standard has been developed in collaboration with police forces, customs agencies, museums, the art trade, valuers, and the insurance industry.

The contents of the standard were identified by a combination of background research, interviews, and, most importantly, by the major international questionnaire surveys. In total, over 1,000 responses were received from organizations in 84 countries, The findings of these surveys, published in Protecting Cultural Objects in the Global Information Society, demonstrated that there was close agreement on the information needed to describe objects for purposes of identification. The result is the Object ID Checklist.*

Object ID is easy to use. Just follow the checklist and try to answer as many of the questions as possible, To find out more about Object ID, or to request permission to reproduce the Object ID Checklist, contact:

The Council for the Prevention of Art Theft
The Estate Office
Stourhead Park
Stourton, Warminster
Wiltshire BA12 6QD England
Telephone and Facsimile: 011.44.1747.841540


Take Photographs: Photographs are of vital importance in identifying recovering stolen objects. In addition to overall views, take close-ups of inscriptions, and any damage or repairs. If possible, include a scale or object of known size in the image.

Answer These Questions:

Type of Object: What kind of object is it (e.g., painting, sculpture, clock, mask)?

Materials & Techniques: What materials is the object made of (e.g., brass, wood, oil on canvas)? How was it made (e.g., carved, cast, etched)?

Measurements: What is the size and/or weight of the object? Specify which unit of measurement is being used (e.g., cm., in.) and to which dimension the measurement refers (e.g., height, width, depth).

Inscriptions & Markings: Are there any identifying markings, numbers, or inscriptions on the object (e.g., a signature, dedication, title, maker’s mark, purity marks, property marks)?

Distinguishing Features: Does the object have any physical characteristics that could help to identify it (e.g., damage, repairs, manufacturing defects)?

Title: Does the object have a title by which it is known and might be identified (e.g., The Scream)?

Subject: What is pictured or represented (e.g., landscape, battle, woman holding child)?

Date or Period: When was the object made (e.g., 1893, early 17th century, Late Bronze Age)?

Maker: Do you know who made the object? this may be the name of a known individual (e.g., Thomas Tompion), a company (e.g., Tiffany), or a cultural group (e.g, Hopi).

Write a Short Description: This can also include any additional information which helps to identify the object (e.g, color and shape of the object, where it was made).

Keep it Secure: Having document the object, Keep this information in a safe place.