Object ID

Information on how to catalogue your collection

The illicit trade in cultural objects is now widely recognized as one of the most prevalent categories of international crime. Documentation is crucial for the protection of art and antiques, for police officers can rarely recover and return objects that have not been photographed and adequately described.

The Object ID is an international standard for describing cultural objects. It is the result of years of research in collaboration with the museum community, international police and custom agencies, the art trade, insurance industry, and appraisers of art and antiques.

The Object ID project was initiated by the J. Paul Getty Trust in 1993 and the standard was launched in 1997. It is being promoted by major law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, Scotland Yard and Interpol, UNESCO, museums, cultural heritage organizations, art trade and art appraisal organizations, and insurance companies, such as AXA ART Insurance.

The contents of the standard were identified by a combination of background research, interviews, and, most importantly, by major international questionnaire surveys. In total, over 1,000 responses were received from organizations in 84 countries.


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



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).

Type of Object 

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


Does the object have a title by which it is known and might be identified?

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)?


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).

Date or Period 

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

Inscriptions & Markings

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

Distinguishing Features

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


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


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).


Having documented the object, keep this information in a secure place.

This announcement is advisory in nature and is provided for informational purposes only. It is offered as a resource to be used by insurance advisors and insureds in maintaining an appropriate loss prevention program. No liability of any kind is assumed by AXA ART by reason of the information contained in this announcement.

  • © AXA ART Insurance Corporation, 2016