May 17, 2018

Getty Conservation Institute and City of Lincoln in England Announce Launch of Innovative Heritage Management System

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Alexandria Sivak
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Getty Communications



LEFT: The historic relationship between church and state power is vividly illustrated by the visual interplay between the Cathedral and the Castle, which together dominate the Lincoln skyline. Credit: City of Lincoln Council CENTER: ARCADE logo RIGHT: The nave of Lincoln Cathedral showcases some of the finest architectural detailing anywhere in the world. Credit: City of Lincoln Council


          The Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) and City of Lincoln Council in England announced today the launch of ARCADE (Access Resource for Conservation and Archaeology in a Development Environment), a dynamic and powerful web-based system that categorizes, maps, and describes the rich cultural heritage of the City of Lincoln. The publicly-accessible database will showcase the diversity of the city’s long history from Roman times to the present, reveal the complex relationships of the people and events that shaped Lincoln’s development, and help guide city efforts to protect and preserve its cultural heritage.

          ARCADE was built using Arches, an open-source data-management platform created to inventory cultural heritage places, including buildings and structures, archaeological sites and finds, and historic landscapes. Arches—developed by the GCI in partnership with World Monuments Fund—employs international standards for cultural heritage information, is highly customizable, and can be configured for use by policymakers, property owners, developers, visitors, students, historians, and the public at large. The Arches platform is freely available to cultural heritage organizations worldwide to implement however they wish.

          “Our colleagues at City of Lincoln have been enthusiastic collaborators as we have worked together to adapt Arches as the underlying platform of ARCADE,” says Tim Whalen, John E. and Louise Bryson Director of the Getty Conservation Institute. “The importance of historical data maintained by City of Lincoln offers an opportunity for us to demonstrate the significant advantages of Arches to the international conservation community, and the benefits it provides to those in need of a modern and comprehensive cultural heritage management system.”

          The City of Lincoln, situated a little more than two hours north of London, has ancient roots as a Roman colony founded in 50 A.D. along the River Witham. In 1072, William the Conqueror started building Lincoln Cathedral and Castle, a site noteworthy to this day for possessing one of four surviving originals of the Magna Carta. Today, the city has a population of about 97,000, and maintains a number of historic sites.

          “One of the virtues of having Lincoln taking the lead with Arches in the UK is its thoughtful integration of below-ground and above-ground asset management,” says Alison Dalgity, Arches project manager at the Getty Conservation Institute. “Lincoln’s decision to have its city archaeologist and its city conservation officer work in partnership demonstrates a great deal of foresight.”

          The Arches historical inventory for Lincoln currently contains 18,000 records, including 9,113 records of archaeological sites and historic buildings, 3,959 records for excavations and surveys, and 3,179 records for its library of books, reports, maps, and photographs. Many entries show relationships between different types of cultural heritage data, such as an historic building and information about its architect, or an archaeological site and information on artifacts found at that site that may now reside in a museum. ARCADE also has powerful search and discovery features, including a colorful and innovative “time wheel” that visualizes the entire content of the database broken down into millennia, centuries, and decades, and a mapping system that allows heritage data to be viewed in new ways, such as using a heat map to demonstrate the density of heritage in the city.

          As Lincoln continues to grow, it will require modern tools that help manage its heritage in the face of change. For example, Lincoln has nationally important archaeology across the city in layers up to 20 feet thick—from Roman buildings at the base, through Saxon huts and gardens, to medieval houses and churches. These sites potentially constrain the development of new buildings, and require careful consideration. ARCADE can be used by planners and developers to better understand the development constraints in areas with cultural heritage assets, and can help them determine how best to balance development and heritage preservation. Addressing all of these issues at an early stage of development planning can save significant time and money.

          Before the use of Arches, historical information about Lincoln was accessed via the Lincoln Heritage Database. While it has been the repository for data about the city for over 30 years, the database also had many limitations, including its organization, searchability and lack of public accessibility. ARCADE addresses these limitations, using a state-of-the-art online public interface. It will make accessing data significantly faster, turning the current day-long process of generating maps, extracting data and preparing files into one that takes less than 30 minutes.

          One of the more fascinating discoveries made during the process of analyzing Lincoln’s historic data was a collection of “Lachrymatories,” or small vials that were used in Roman mourning rituals. Once thought to collect the tears of mourners, the vials were instead likely used to release the scents of expensive perfumes during cremations. The existence of these vials in the City of Lincoln’s inventory of heritage objects was virtually unknown before the data was sorted and better understood.

          The GCI is also working with Historic England, which will be deploying Arches as the new Greater London Historic Environment Record, anticipated to be launched by the end of 2019.

          “It has been great to work with the GCI and Historic England on this project,” says Kieron Manning, Lincoln’s planning manager. “Lincoln has a world-class heritage, but it’s also a growing and expanding modern city. Arches/ARCADE will help us to manage change sustainably, ensuring that we don’t lose sight of our past while building for the future.” 

          A video about the project can be viewed here -

Project partners for ARCADE include:

Alastair MacIntosh, City Archaeologist, City of Lincoln

Sarah Harrison, Principal Conservation Officer, City of Lincoln

Phil Carlisle, Knowledge Organization Specialist, Historic England, Swindon

Dennis Wuthrich, CEO, Farallon Geographics Inc., San Francisco

Neil Smith, Director, Knowledge Integration Ltd., Sheffield

Alison Dalgity, Arches Project Manager, Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles

The Arches platform has been implemented by a number of organizations around the world, including as national-scale inventories in Asia and the Caribbean, and as county- and city-level inventories in the United States, including by the City of Los Angeles as HistoricPlacesLA, which is available online at The Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa (EAMENA) project based at Oxford University is also using Arches to record archaeological sites and landscapes across a twenty country region.

Development of the Arches open source platform was initiated through a collaboration of the Getty Conservation Institute and World Monuments Fund. As open source software, Arches is available for cultural heritage organizations at no cost and can be customized and independently deployed to meet their particular needs. The Arches project has brought together a worldwide community of heritage professionals and information technology specialists. Find out more at



The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades.

The Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) works internationally to advance conservation practice in the visual arts—broadly interpreted to include objects, collections, architecture, and sites. The Institute serves the conservation community through scientific research, education and training, field projects, and the dissemination of information. In all its endeavors, the GCI creates and delivers knowledge that contributes to the conservation of the world’s cultural heritage.

The City of Lincoln Council is responsible for the management of heritage and development in the historic city of Lincoln. With origins in prehistory, Lincoln has a broad and deep heritage that includes standing Roman monuments, a wealth of buried archaeology, and internationally important medieval buildings including the Castle, the Cathedral, and the Bishops’ Palace. As the city grows and new buildings are erected, the city council provides advice and information to help manage change for the benefit of the community. The city council will use the new ARCADE system to maintain and share a comprehensive list of all known archaeology, historic buildings and heritage information resources in the city to enable sound, evidence-based decision making in Lincoln.


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