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Penrose Library

Omeka Documentation: Build Exhibits

Modules on the use of Omeka software, with FAQ for faculty and students.

Introduction to Exhibits

What is the Exhibit Builder?

This tutorial is for Exhibit Builder 3. The Exhibit Builder allows you to develop online exhibits, or special web pages, that showcase a combination of digital objects in your Omeka collections with narrative text. Using pre-built themes and layouts, as well as a simple visual editor, you can build complex pages without any programming knowledge. Exhibits all follow the same structure of sections and pages within sections (see diagram right).

Diagram of an Exhibit's Structure

Example of an Exhibit Page

An exhibit page is essentially a web page featuring your items. Below is an example of a finished exhibit page that uses an image gallery and image with text to showcase items in a collection. The thumbnails are given captions. The largest image has narrative text explaining the significance of the items on the page. Clicking on each thumbnail will take you to the item's page where its descriptive metadata and associated files can be viewed.

About Exhibit Themes

Your Exhibit's Look and Feel

If you want the exhibit to retain the same look and design as the rest of the website, do not choose a new theme. If you like the look and feel of the class website’s current public theme, but want to add a logo and customize the exhibit, choose “default” theme. You will be able to add a banner image that shows up when people visit your exhibit. You can also choose a completely different theme for your exhibit and this will not affect the rest of your site. A list of 2.0 compatible themes is available here.

Omeka Copyright

More information is available at Omeka is a project of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, George Mason University. Omeka and the Omeka logo are registered trademarks. Copyright © 2007–2014 CHNM.

I. Getting Started

Before You Begin...

You will want to think carefully about the structure of your exhibit and the items you will want to showcase. It is useful to create an outline such as the one shown above to help you plan how your exhibit will be arranged. It is possible to rearrange the content of your exhibit after the fact, but much easier if you already have a clear idea of how you want it to be organized.


1. Click on the Exhibits tab in the top nav bar of the Admin interface, and click the "Add Exhibits" button on the right side. You will arrive at an Exhibit Metadata page. Fill in the empty fields.


  • Exhibit Slug (no spaces or special characters): This is the exhibit name as it appears in the website URL, for example,

  • The "slug" is the last part of the URL, "myexhibitname"

  • Exhibit Credits: These will appear with description on the public site.

  • Exhibit Description: An introduction to the entire exhibit that appears on the public site. Enter narrative text here. You can use HTML here to add extra images, or even embed video.

  • Exhibit Tags: Tags help associate exhibits with other items in your archive.

  • Exhibit is featured: Will this exhibit be featured on the browse exhibit page? Usually you would check this option.

  • Exhibit is public/not public: If you are designing the exhibit in stages, you probably do not want to make your exhibit public. NB: Remember, if your exhibit is not public and you are logged in, you will see the exhibit appear on your site as if it is public. Log out, and then look at your site.

  • Exhibit Theme: By default, “Current Public Theme” is selected. You can select other themes to change the look of your exhibit without affecting the rest of the site.


II. Pages

Adding Pages

1. Click the "Add Page" button. You will next need to enter a page title and slug (the part of the URL referring to the page). Your exhibit can have many pages, or even just one page.


2. You may want to add your exhibit pages without any content first so that you can organize them by theme or chronological order, depending on how your exhibit will be structured. You can make pages hierarchical by dragging them below another page.


3. Now it is time to add content blocks to your pages. Think of a content block like a container your items will sit in. The type of layout you choose for each content block will determine whether the items are displayed as a thumbnail gallery, image with text, or multiple images with text on the public page. You can add as many content blocks to your pages as you like. Select the layout you want (you can change it later) and click the "Add Content Block" button.


Your page is now ready for some items. Check out Part III of this guide to see how to add items to content blocks within your pages.

III. Add Items to Pages

Adding Items to Pages

Now that you have some pages with at least one content block layout selected, you can choose which items will go on which page, and how you want those items to be displayed.

1. If you have selected any block other than Text, choose an item by clicking the large plus sign button appearing in the Items area. An items browse dialog box pops up showing all of your items. You can search in the items or browse. To select an item, click on its bar. The right end of the bar will highlight a dark brown "Select Item" button. Click Select Item to find options for creating a caption for the item. If you have more than one file uploaded for an item, you will be able to select which you want to use by clicking on it. When you have finished, click the green "Apply" button in the bottom right-hand corner to add the item.

2. Once you have added an item, you can change the caption or selected file by clicking the edit button which sits across the bottom of the item icon. To delete items, click the x in the upper right hand corner of the item icon; this will gray out the icon, indicating that it will be deleted the next time you save changes. If you decide not to delete the item, you can click the arrow which replaced the x, but you must do so before you save your changes. You can reuse items multiple times within an exhibit, and you can use different pages from the same item in different places.

3. If necessary, you can change the layout options for the content block for more control over how your items are displayed. Both the File with Text and Gallery blocks include layout options to change the look of the exhibit page. To access these options, click the black triangle button to the right of the Layout Options text at the bottom of the block. This will reveal dropdown menus with options for changing the layout. This will give you options like image size, how captions should be aligned, and how text should float (to the right or left of images).

4. Keep adding items to your content blocks! When your exhibit is finished, clicking on an item image or thumbnail will take the viewer to that item's page where they can read about the item in more detail. Use your exhibit to explain how items within a collection are related to one another.

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