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Owning Your Omeka Workshop Series

This how-to guide is meant to support anyone interested in setting up and maintaining their Omeka Classic website using Reclaim Hosting. It is ancillary resource for the "Owning Your Omeka" Workshop Series developed by Kate Thornhill and Franny Gaede

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Digital Scholarship Librarian

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Kate Thornhill

Head of Digital Scholarship Services

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Franny Gaede
Knight Library 142
Social: Twitter Page
Subjects: Digital Research

Definitions, FAQs, How-tos, and Documentation


Computer logoWhat is a Digital Exhibit?

Digital exhibits present information about digital objects (for example, images, video, audio, maps, etc.) and provide context with explanatory essays or other media.

Platforms to build digital exhibits differ from other content management systems (like Wordpress) in that they’re built specifically to manage and curate digital objects and their related metadata. They are widely used by cultural heritage institutions to share curated digitized and born-digital collections and by faculty as part of digital scholarship initiatives, publications, and course projects. Not just a digital facsimile or surrogate for a physical exhibit, a digital exhibit enhances learning, teaching, and research by being a venue for contextualized library and archive primary sources. This staging exists as an interactive space allowing academic communities to enhance research efforts and participate in project-based learning curricular practices.

FAQ iconFrequently Asked Questions

What types of interactive features do digital exhibits have?

What makes digital exhibit systems, like Omeka, different from other content management systems are the following:

  1. Items are managed through metadata (descriptions about data)
  2. Digital exhibits have a browse and search functionality focused on digital objects
  3. Make search queries to display digital objects tagged with specific categories
  4. Site navigation for digital exhibit pages to support thematic narratives


Computer logoWhat is Omeka?

Omeka is a software tool that enables you to create dynamic online exhibits that showcase collections of digital images, text, and other multi-media formats in one seamless site. There are three versions of Omeka, each slightly different in functionality and purpose.


Omeka Classic - We are using Omeka Classic for this workshop series.
Best for those who run an independent website on their own servers,
Omeka Classic offers a full installation of Omeka on your own website with software available online for free. It is great if you are working on a research project. You can use Reclaim Hosting to host your installation and will need to manage the technology on your own.

Omeka S
Omeka S is a next-generation version of Omeka Classic. Designed for universities, galleries, libraries,
archives, and museums, users can collaborate and create exhibits from a shared pool of items, media, and metadata. It is great if you want to run a multi-site installation for a course.  You can use Reclaim Hosting to host your installation and will need to manage the technology on your own.
If you’re new to Omeka, we recommend that you use Here, you can build an Omeka website hosted for free on the servers. The free account does have fewer functionalities than a full installation or subscription, but it provides you with enough tools to test the Omeka waters.

FAQ iconFrequently Asked Questions - Omeka Classic

Is Omeka Classic free?  Yes, the software is free to use because it has an open source license. 

How can I find out more information about Omeka? has a lot of great information. They have a lively forum full of Omeka community members who are actively using the softeare.

Will I need technical help managing the technology?  Maybe. It depends on your experience with web application hosting. While Reclaim Hosting is responsible for technology infrastructure to host your Omeka site, you are responsible for installing plugins, themes, and managing any custom development you do to your website.


Computer logoWhat is the Omeka Classic Technology Stack?

All web applications like Wordpress and Omeka have technical requirements setup in order to work properly. Think of this as if you were building a house without plumbing. Without plumbing, your home might not be as functional as you need it to be. You need infrastructure in place to use faucets and drains.

Omeka uses a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) stack for its technical framework.  The video below is a great overview of what a LAMP is and how it works. There might be times when you are configuring Omeka to work with specific plugins and themes where you'll need to dig deeper into these components. You can access them via the Reclaim Hosting cPanel.


Computer logoWhat is the Admin Dashboard?

The admin dashboard is your behinds the screen control panel for managing your Omeka website. You can do the following things...

  • Create different Omeka users and change their passwords
  • Create, edit, and delete collections
  • Create, edit, and delete item types
  • Apply tags to specific items
  • Create, edit, and delete static pages with dynamic contentt
  • Make a digital exhibit pages
  • Enable and change plugins and themes

Screenshot of Omeka admin dashboard



Computer logoWhat is ImageMagick?

ImageMagick is a computer program that helps Omeka automatically transform digital files into image derivatives like thumbnails.

FAQ iconFrequently Asked Questions

Is there something special I need to do to make ImageMagick work? Yes! Here are the steps.

  1. Log into your Omeka Dashboard
  2. Go to Settings
  3. Go to the tab "General"
  4. Go to "ImageMagick Directory Path"
  5. Type the following into the blank field... /usr/bin



Computer logoWhat are Digital Objects?

A digital object is a combination of two things:

  1. Digital media file(s)
    1. File types supported by Omeka Classic
  2. Metadata about the digital media file(s)
    1. For the most part Omeka's default metadata standard is DublinCore. Read more about working with DublinCore and Omeka in the Omeka Classic user guide.

Digital objects when added to Omeka are done using what the system calls "ITEM TYPES". 


Item types are types of resources (oral histories, still images), with associated metadata. Omeka comes with pre-defined item types with fields, but you can easily edit these types, or add your own types. 

Item Types are used to support the type of descriptions your digital media files need to convey meaning and tell the system how the item should behave on your website.

Examples describing the difference:

  • Still Image Item Type is a static visual representation. Examples of still images are: paintings, drawings, graphic designs, plans and maps. Recommended best practice is to assign the type "text" to images of textual materials. 
    • Tells Omeka to display a jpg of a painting on a web page and search for still images
  • Document Item Type is a resource containing textual data like a text file (.txt file)
    • Tells Omeka to display a .txt file as an icon on a web page and search for text files

Screenshot of Omeka item types in the admin dashboard


Computer logoWhat are Themes and Plugins?

Themes and plugins allow you to control the look and feel and core and additional Omeka functionalities. Without them, your website would not be interactive. Their code bases are made out of HTML, CSS, and PHP.

You can download Omeka themes and plugins via the Omeka Classic website. Themes and plugins update regularly so make sure you check for changes. Your website's technical functionalities will stay up to date by doing this.

Make sure these plugins are installed and working. They are the basics needed to get your Omeka site operational.

  • COiNs
  • Simple Pages
  • Exhibit Builder

You can add themes and plugins using FileZilla

  1. Log into FileZilla FTP Client
  2. Connect to your host
  3. Find the subdomain folder where you installed Omeka Classic
  4. Locate 2 folders - "themes" and "plugins"
  5. Drag and drop the uncompressed .zip files and make sure to remove everything except the plugins name
  6. Once the files have finished transferring log into your Omeka site and navigate to the Appearance or Plugins tab to see if your transfers worked.
  7. Now either select your theme and/or install or active the plugins via the Omeka admin dashboard

Screenshot of FileZilla instructing where to upload themes and plugins

Access to installed themes and plugins are located at the top

Screenshot of the Admin dashboard top navigation bar

Screenshot of the Appearance tab in Omeka

Screenshot of Omeka plugins


Computer logo Enhance Your Storytelling with <iframe>

Omeka allows scholars to enhance their digital exhibits using an iFrame. An iFrame is an HTML code that you can insert into your Omeka's source code via the system's admin dashboard. It's useful when you want to embed interactive content that's hosted somewhere else like a video on YouTube, an interactive map using StoryMapJS, or interactive timeline like TimelineJS.


How to add an iFrame

1. Make sure in the Omeka Admin Dashboard to go to Settings then Security and then scroll down the page to HTML Filtering. Make sure the box is unchecked.

2. For a static page or an exhibit page, locate the text box where you can add and style written or media content.

Screenshot of Omeka text box


3. Click on the <> icon in the text editor and then copy and paste your iframe HTML code and save.

Screenshot of Omeka text source code box


Computer logoWhat is the Exhibit Builder?

The Exhibit Builder is a plugin that allows you to create your own online exhibit using blocks. These blocks take digital objects uploaded to your Omeka database and allows you to organize them with scholarly writings that together tell a research story.

Learn how to use the Exhibit Builder with instructions and documentation created by Omeka.

Basics of the Exhibit Builder plugin

1. Add metadata about your exhibit

Screenshot of build an exhibit page


2. Add your exhibit pages

Screenshot of build an exhibit page - page lists

3. Build your exhibit page using blocks. Give a page title and a short title for the exhibit menu.

Highlighted Digital Repositories

Digital Public Library of America

The DPLA is a discovery tool for public domain and openly licensed content held by the United States' archives, libraries, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions. It was started by Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society in 2010, with financial support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and has subsequently received funding from several foundations and government agencies, including the US National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Haiti Trust - Research Guide 


Oregon Digital - Research Guide 


Oregon Digital Newspaper - Research Guide

Documentation logoOmeka Documentation & Community

If you are looking for help with Omeka Classic then checkout software documentation and join the open source community conversation.


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Ways a UO Digital Scholarship Services Librarians can help you with Omeka?

  • Think through setting up your digital exhibit with you
  • Make technical recommendations
  • Provide consultations for technology troubleshooting issues
  • Help you learn how to use Omeka for digital archives, digital humanities, digital social science, and digital science projects
  • Identify the best places to access online library, archives, and museum objects
  • Strategize with faculty on how to integrate Omeka into the classroom

Digital Exhibit Examples

Workshop 2: Setting Up Your Own Omeka with Reclaim Hosting

The information on this part of the Owning Your Omeka Workshop Series instruction guide supports the second session of the workshop series.

Workshop participants will learn the following during this 2 hour session

  1. Identify system features for an Omeka Classic digital exhibit

  2. Evaluate Omeka Classic websites to determine what makes them digital exhibits

  3. Using Reclaim Hosting, setup the technical requirements needed for an Omeka Classic digital exhibit using themes and plugin