"A Collections Data Management Section (CDMS) Working Party was set up in the 1980s to analyse the terms used to record object names in the British Museum, and to incorporate them into an on-line thesaurus. Hierarchical and other standard thesaural relationships were added, as well as explanatory notes where appropriate. The thesaurus architecture is based on ISO 2788. Curatorial advice has been sought at all stages of the project, and a number of publications were consulted, which are listed in the bibliography. Members of the Working Party also contributed extensively to the Museum Documentation Association (mda) Terminology Working Group and to the mda Archaeological Objects Thesaurus Working Party. The initial entries were generated from the object name indexes to the databases, consisting of terms taken from a variety of documentary sources (such as registers, file cards and catalogues). Hence the terms in the thesaurus are not full descriptions of the objects; these are entered in the Description field. The choice of Top Terms and Broad Terms was determined by common retrieval enquiries and by the nature of the British Museum's collections, and includes functional object name categories (e.g. vessel) as well as those referring to an activity (e.g. dance equipment) or concept (e.g. religious/ritual equipment). The addition of the word 'equipment' allows for object names describing ancillary equipment to be included in each category. Thus for example, the music equipment hierarchy incorporates music-book as well as musical instrument.
The thesaurus reflects the nature of the British Museum collections, and was originally set up as an internal reference tool. Some areas of terminology may be more specific than others, depending on the level of documentation available, or the size of particular collections."