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What is Arches?

Arches is a new open-source geospatial software system for cultural heritage inventory and management, developed jointly by the Getty Conservation Institute  and World Monuments Fund. The system is freely available for organizations worldwide to download, configure, and install. A demonstration version of Arches is available to explore online.

Arches grew out of the collaborative effort to create the Middle Eastern Geodatabase for Antiquities (see Project Background), and the widespread need within the heritage field for low-cost electronic inventories that are easy to use and access. Arches combines state-of-the-art software development with the insights and perspective of heritage professionals from around the world.

The need for functional heritage inventories has grown over the last decades, together with the rise of a global awareness of the importance of heritage management. Nevertheless, inventories remain complicated to establish and maintain, and frequently rely on costly proprietary software that does not always fit the needs of the heritage field. Arches will provide a common platform that is easy to use and customize, and yet one that takes advantage of the latest available technology to allow users to create and manage heritage information in all its richness and diversity.

Purpose-built. Arches has been purpose-built for the international cultural heritage field, and can be used to inventory and document all types of immovable heritage, including buildings and other structures, cultural landscapes, heritage ensembles or districts, as well as archaeological sites.

Open Source. As open source software, Arches is freely available to use and customize, without licensing costs, and it is capable of being configured and extended to meet the needs of particular users. To learn more, see Open Source Software and the Arches Project.

Standards-based. Arches incorporates internationally adopted standards for heritage inventory, semantic modeling, and information technology, leading to better practices in the creation and management of heritage data and facilitating data exchange and longevity in spite of advances in technology. To learn more, see Standards and Interoperability.

Arches helps organizations achieve a number of objectives that promote the understanding, appreciation, and management of heritage places. These include:

• identification and inventory
• research and analysis
• monitoring and risk mapping
• determining needs and priorities for investigation, research, conservation and management
• planning for investigation, conservation, and management activities
• raising awareness and promoting understanding among the public, as well as governmental authorities and decision makers

Read a joint statement from the leaders of the Getty Conservation Institute and World Monuments Fund, the organizations that have partnered to lead the development of Arches.

Kuño Tambo, Peru

Kuño Tambo, Peru