Omeka is a web platform for publishing collections and exhibitions online. Designed for cultural institutions, enthusiasts, and educators, Omeka is easy to install and modify and facilitates community-building around collections and exhibits. It is designed with non-IT specialists in mind, allowing users to focus on content rather than programming.

Omeka will come loaded with the following features:

  • Dublin Core metadata structure and standards-based design that is fully accessible and interoperable
  • Professional-looking exhibit sites that showcase collections without hiring outside designers
  • Theme-switching for changing the look and feel of an exhibit in a few clicks
  • Plug-ins for geolocation, bi-lingual sites, and a host of other possibilities
  • Web 2.0 Technologies, including:
    • Tagging: Allow users to add keywords to items in a collection or exhibit
    • Blogging: Keep in touch with users through timely postings about collections and events
    • Syndicating: Update your users about your content with RSS feeds

Project Goals

Beginning in Fall 2007, CHNM will host and organize and open source community to plan, design, test, evaluate, and disseminate Omeka over four phases through September 2010, while working closely with our major partner, the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS).

We envision Omeka benefiting cultural institutions, enthusiasts, and educators in three ways:

1. Enable users to publish web content with a system that is low-cost and easy-to-use.

Since many cultural institutions publish limited web content because they lack trained staff and sufficient budgets to manage a professional online presence, CHNM will release Omeka as a free and open-source system that will be fully documented and easy to use for staff with little technical experience. Omeka offers users professional-looking design themes that showcase collections and eliminate the need to hire outside designers. CHNM also plans to offer a hosted version by 2009 for those who cannot run Omeka on their own servers.

2. Provide users with a standards-based, interoperable system that allows them to share and use digital content in multiple contexts.

When cultural heritage and teaching sites offer online resources, those digital pieces do not conform to basic metadata standards and do not meet accessibility guidelines, making resource sharing and reaching all potential visitors impossible. Omeka will be fully standards-based, both with regard to object metadata (Dublin Core) and to design interface (W3C), and to be extensible and interoperable with other Omeka installations and selected collections systems. This will allow users to re-use materials in multiple online contexts without redundant data entry and to share collections more easily with other users. By 2009, will host a live directory that aggregates content from all Omeka installations to encourage resource sharing.

3. Facilitate users, in particular cultural institutions, engaging their publics and building communities around objects and primary sources.

Omeka will include basic Web 2.0 features such as an RSS feed, blog, and a tag cloud. Other planned plugins include a mapping function, and ways to collect and display stories and photos from web visitors who are demanding a different type of online interaction shaped by Web 2.0. Omeka offers organizations and individuals the opportunity to share in the creation of content. We encourage users to develop other Web 2.0 applications that fit into Omeka’s plugin architecture, and will host a directory of all plugins created by the community. Interactive and participatory systems,like Omeka, build regular interaction with a base of online visitors and encourage democratic participation in the shaping of our culture.

Development for Omeka is funded by grants from the Institute of Museums and Library Services and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Omeka will be released under General Public License, Version 2.