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.museum Naming Conventions

Museum Domain Management Association
The .museum Registry

.museum Naming Conventions

The principles for naming subdomains in the .museum top-level domain (TLD) have been the subject of lengthy and intense discussion. What are formally termed the "name conventions," are extremely important for the museum community, their various audiences and the general public. A detailed document regarding the name conventions can be found at:

MuseDoma is committed to operating the .museum TLD in the best interests of the museum community. In order to do this, MuseDoma wishes to know: What names does the community want to use in the .museum TLD?

To begin, it is vital to understand the .museum name conventions. A complete domain name is a series of "labels" separated by periods, called "dots." Each label designates a subdomain level, numbered from right to left:

The top-level domain is not referred to by number and is abbreviated TLD. The second-level is abbreviated SLD, and each lower level by number as 3LD, 4LD, etc. A complete domain name may be described either in terms of the lowest level that it contains, or the number of labels or dots that it contains; all mean the same thing. The preceding example would most correctly be called a fourth-level domain, but could also be described as a four-label or three-dot name.

The name conventions for the .museum TLD allow individual registrants to use domain names containing as many labels as they wish subject to a few basic requirements. When selecting a name within this domain it is important to consider three equally important objectives:

  • The .museum name must be clearly derived from the well-known name of the organization, institution or museum professional registering the domain.
  • The .museum name must contain sufficient information to provide users with an idea of the museum's disciplinary focus or its location.
  • The .museum name must be specific enough to minimize the potential for confusion with other museums.

MuseDoma suggests that museums consider the following name structure, using at least three labels:

  • Top-Level - .museum
  • Second-Level - location or discipline or generic term
  • Third and Lower Levels - name of institution using one or more labels

Following this principle a complete third-level domain name might be:

The unique name may, for example, be an abbreviation or acronym by which the museum is well known, or some similarly unique linking of the museum's name, as for example,

In practice, the notion of uniqueness is not expected to be absolute. The important point is keeping the risk of confusion about the identity of domain name holders at an acceptably low level. There is likely to be some degree of first-come first-served competition among applicants, although this will not be permitted to become an overriding principle.

If the name of the institution is used by many other museums a fourth-level domain name might be more suitable, as:

If desired, using additional subdomain labels may indicate the uniqueness of a museum. It may also be necessary for more specific information about the location of the museum to be provided in this manner. For example, a fifth-level domain name might be:

Virtual museums that are not associated with organizations operating physical museums will all register under the dedicated second-level domain or other unambiguous equivalents that may be proposed:

Individual museum professionals will similarly use or equivalent designations.

As you will note, the name conventions do not permit individual museums to register second-level domains. Although such names are likely to be regarded as desirable, .museum policy must balance this factor against the purpose of providing the public with as much information about the registered museums as can be done with their domain names. However pleased the single successful applicant for might be, little further purpose would be served by having several hundred displeased institutions that would be equally qualified for that name, plus a public that has no idea which national museum the name identifies.

It should also be noted that individual museums will both be permitted and encouraged to register multiple domain names if they feel it purposeful to be located in, for example, both disciplinary and location hierarchies. The latter includes for physical museums that also operate virtual museums.

The full documentation for submitting preliminary requests for the reservation of domain names in .museum can be found online at

Updated: 20 June 2005