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Course & Subject Guides

Building Digital Exhibits Using Omeka @ Pitt

Project Planning

Before creating your Omeka site, it is important to be intentional about the what items will be included in your exhibits and collections. As you begin the planning portion of your project consider the following questions:

  • What are the primary goals of the site?
    • What is its purpose?
    • What do you want a user to be able to learn or do?
    • Why have you chosen an item-based approach?
  • Who will do the work of administering the site, creating items and exhibits, and/or digitizing items?
  • Who is the primary audience for this website?
  • What items do you want to include?
  • How will you group your items?
    • Will you group them into Collections?
    • Will you use tags?
    • Will you link metadata fields using the Search by Metadata plugin?*
    • Do you want to organize items based on theme? Time period? Object type?
  • How do you want to structure your site?
    • How do you want your users to navigate?
    • Do you need additional pages?


*Plugin only available on to paid users or owners of a ULS-Hosted Omeka Site.


Metadata--or "deliberate, structured data" about an item, collection, or exhibit--is at the core of Omeka. Omeka has 15 different fields (like Creator, Date, Title, etc.) that you can use to describe the items on your site. However, these fields can be very general! Although there is guidance for how these fields are meant to be used, a lot rests on the site creator(s) deciding how they would like to use each field. You even have the option to choose not to use certain fields.

Before adding items, each Omeka site creator should make some decisions about their metadata based on the items they hope to add to their site.

The ULS Omeka Trainers have created a Metadata Style Guide to help site creators understand each element and make some necessary decisions. Please feel free to use this guide for your site! You can also contact us to get some help thinking through questions about metadata.

The Admin Panel

A dark horizontal bar reading Plugins - Appearance - Users - Settings

The Admin Panel appears in the top right corner of your site. You can use these links to access different settings for your Omeka site.


Plugins are tools to extend the basic functionality of Omeka. Each site comes with plugins to allow you to create basic web pages, build digital exhibits, add links for web visitors to connect with their social networking sites, and to make your data readable by bibliographic web tools. Read more about plugins here


What plugins are available to me?

The following plugins are available on ULS-Hosted Omeka Sites: COinS, Commenting, Contribution, CSS Editor, CSV Import, Dublin Core Extended, Editorial, Exhibit Builder, Exhibit Image Annotation, Geolocation, Google Analytics, Hide Elements, HTML5 Media, Item Order, Item Relations, Library of Congress Suggest, Locale, OAI-PMH Harvester, OAI-PMH Repository, Omeka API Import, PDF Embed, PDF Text, Reports, Search by Metadata, Shared Shelf, Shortcodes Carousel, Simple Contact Form, Simple Pages, Simple Vocab, Social Bookmarking, Text Annotation, Web Services Shortcodes

Plugins available for trial (free) accounts are: COinS, CSV Import, Exhibit Builder, Library of Congress Suggest, Locale, OAI-PMH Harvester, Shared Shelf, Simple Pages

You may see references to other plugins not on these lists. Some plugins are only available for, which is a version of Omeka that you download and install yourself.


Suggested plugins

  • Contribution - Allows collecting items from visitors

  • CSS Editor - Add public CSS styles through the admin interface.

  • CSV Import - Imports items, tags, and files from CSV files.

  • Exhibit Builder - Build rich exhibits using Omeka.

  • Exhibit Image Annotation - Annotate images in your exhibits.

  • PDF Embed - Embeds PDF documents into item and file pages.

  • SimpleContactForm - Adds a simple contact form for users to contact the administrator.

  • Simple Pages - Allows administrators to create simple web pages for their public site.

  • Simple Vocab - A simple way to create controlled vocabularies.


You have some control over the appearance of your Omeka site using the Appearance settings. For documentation about what you can control, please see the Omeka Manage Appearance documentation.



Themes are a powerful way of changing the visual layout and style of your site. Different themes are available to different Omeka plans; consult the theme list for your plan type for a full list. After choosing a theme, you have options for how to configure it. Please consult the Omeka Manage Themes documentation for more details, including a visual comparison of different themes.


You can add add additional users to your site. There are different permission levels you can assign to users:

  • Super users can access all available pages in the admin. Supers are the only users with access to the Settings panel where they can choose and configure themes, add and edit users, and change general settings. If you have a large project with many users, it is advised to limit the Super user roles to the project owner or owners.
  • Administrator users can access and edit Items, Collections, and Tags.
  • Contributor users can add items and edit items they have created. They may create exhibits using any item in the archive, and have permission to view any public exhibit from the administrative side.
  • Researcher users can see all of the Items, Collections, and Item Types pages–public or private, but cannot edit any content.

When adding a new user, you can link them to the Creating and Accessing Your Site portion of this guide for instructions.

For instructions about how to add users, assign and edit permissions, and remove users, please consult the Omeka documentation.


In the Settings tab you can control general settings about your site, as well as some specific types of settings:

  • Search settings: configure how users can search for materials on your site
  • Element Sets settings: although only Dublin Core metadata is available to users, this tab allows you to change the order of metadata elements and add comments to elements describing how they are to be used on your site (this can work well with a metadata style guide)
  • Item Type Elements settings: edit the descriptions of Item Type metadata elements.
  • API settings: the Omeka API lets you make materials from your Omeka site available to outside applications.