What is Arches?

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Arches is an open-source data management platform that is freely available for organizations worldwide to install, configure, and extend in accordance with their individual needs and without restrictions on its use. Arches was originally developed for the cultural heritage field by the Getty Conservation Institute and World Monuments Fund. Due to the complex and varied nature of cultural heritage data, and to promote interoperability and sustainable data practices, the Arches Platform has been developed as a standards-based, comprehensive and flexible platform that supports a wide array of uses. The Arches Project has an established international community of developers, service providers, and specialists from multiple domains that collaborates, shares ideas and resources, explores solutions, and provides guidance and support.


Core Arches Platform Capabilities


The Arches Platform is a comprehensive solution for data management, data discovery and visualization, and project/task management.  The platform is fully integrated:  it includes a data management system to manage, define and structure data; discovery and visualization tools to search, report and visualize data (e.g. geospatial data); and project/task management tools (e.g. workflows) to manage sophisticated data editing procedures.


Table describing Arches features from data management, data discovery and visualization to project management.


Uses of Arches


Arches is an open-source, flexible, customizable platform, providing for a wide range of uses based on individual requirements. At its inception, Arches was specifically designed as a generic heritage inventory management system for the international cultural heritage field. This required the system to be extremely flexible. In recent years, the core capabilities and underlying technologies of Arches have been developed to further support a broad range of use cases, which includes but is not limited to:

  • Heritage Inventory
  • Heritage Science
  • Digital Humanities and Research
  • Infrastructure and Construction Project Management

For more information about the ways Arches is being used, visit the Uses of Arches page.




Open Source Community and Benefits


Following an open-source approach, the Arches Project functions through a collaborative international community organized around the software. The community is composed of implementers, users, software developers, technical service providers, as well as funders, who collectively represent various professional sectors including heritage management, archaeology, research, information technology, and philanthropy. Benefits of an open source approach include: no licensing fees; flexibility to extend and customize the open software code, with adopters able to pool resources to extend or customize the software. Cost savings from implementing Arches can free up limited resources for meeting essential requirements, such as documenting and protecting cultural heritage.




Interested in learning more about Arches?


Discover who is using Arches.

Watch recorded webinar videos.

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Consult the Getting Started with Arches resource.

Learn about Arches implementation considerations.

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Arches Open Source Project Background


Arches grew out of a collaboration between the Getty Conservation Institute and World Monuments Fund to address the widespread need within the international heritage field for low-cost digital inventories that are on the one hand, easy to use and are customizable and, on the other, take advantage of the latest technologies to allow for creating and managing heritage information in all its richness and diversity. The GCI and WMF jointly developed Arches through version 3.0 and created infrastructure for its open source community. Since then, the GCI has continued to spearhead successive software development efforts, including releasing Arches Collector, a mobile data collection app, expanding the capabilities of Arches to support management of heritage conservation scientific data, and building additional resources for the Arches community.

Learn about the strategic aims of the Arches project and read a joint statement from the Getty Conservation Institute and World Monuments Fund, the organizations that partnered to lead the development of Arches, from when Version 1.0 of Arches was released in October 2013.


Last updated:  July 2022