The Omeka system is currently in private beta testing, but it sounds like it will be enormously useful – and I’m thinking especially for archaeologists, with their collections gathering dust in various warehouses. Soon there will be no excuse not to have all excavation materials available, online, for others’ restudy…?
Omeka provides museums new way to exhibit collections; develop and re-purpose content; and engage the public in building communities around objects. It is designed with non-IT specialists in mind, allowing users to focus on content rather than programming.
Omeka comes loaded with the following features:
- Free, open source web publishing system with simple installation
- Standards-based structure and design that is fully accessible and interoperable
- Professional-looking exhibit sites that showcase collections without hiring outside designers
- Plug-ins for geolocation, bi-lingual sites, and a host of other possibilities
- Theme-switching for changing the look and feel of an exhibit in a few clicks
- 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
An example project is ‘The Object of History‘:
“The Object of History is a cooperative project between the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media. The project was conceived of in an effort to find a low cost way for students and teacher of U.S. History to have access to the museum’s collections and the expertise of the curators. As a result the materials on the site are designed to improve students’ content knowledge of standard topics in U.S. History and to improve their ability to understand material culture objects as types of historical evidence.”
Some more reading of note for Digital historians, from the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.
“Since 1994, the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University has used digital media and computer technology to democratize history—to incorporate multiple voices, reach diverse audiences, and encourage popular participation in presenting and preserving the past. We sponsor more than two dozen digital history projects and offer free tools and resources for historians.”