From time to time we select new and usually open-source applications to add to our stable of recommended products. Recently we've started working with Omeka, a content management system (CMS) for online digital collections. With Omeka, you can quickly build a searchable repository of archival or artifact records and assemble them into virtual exhibits to showcase your holdings. Omeka is a great choice for archives, museums and historical societies.
Most content management systems are designed to manage a single website with a hierarchy of pages, in which are placed text and other media. In contrast, Omeka is based around items (e.g. historic documents, photographs, audio or video recordings, etc.) which can be arranged into collections and most importantly, exhibits – pages of items.
Over time, the same item, entered only once, can be re-used in multiple exhibits.
Exhibits can have their own unique "theme" (a combination of graphic design and page layout) to differentiate them from other exhibits. Within an exhibit you can create multiple separate pages, and each can present a different layout of text, images, video and other elements.
An easy-to-use web interface provides site adminstrators with access to all the important back-end features: configuring the site appearance and navigation, uploading items (individually or in batches, such as from a DB/TextWorks export), changing themes, and creating information pages as well as exhibits.
Omeka’s features puts content management and virtual exhibit building in your hands, with no technical support needed to launch new exhibits.
Omeka was developed by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University and is in widespread use by libraries and archives across North America. A list of some sites powered by Omeka is available here, but there may be many more unreported uses.
Some examples include:
- Texarkana Museum Systems
- The Land of Penn & Plenty
- 100 Years of the Rockefeller Foundation
- An exhibit of New York bridge photo postcards
- An exhibit about Columbia University in 1968
- Negotiating Citizenship: The Chinese and South Asian Communities in Greater Victoria
- This video provides a brief but excellent overview of Omeka’s features.
- This video shows usage of the Exhibit Builder plugin to create a new exhibit.
- This web page provides an overview of Omeka and its many uses.