Oh My, Omeka! v. Oh, My Omeka!

Omeka is a site whose intention is cataloging and displaying virtual museum exhibits. I love exploring museums, and learning about the back end of them makes me appreciate the process. I look forward to opportunities working with the companies that make programs for museums. I feel an inclination away from traditional interpretation and more towards administration, management, or programming the computer technology necessary to make museums run efficiently. Interpretation is fine, and the research is fun. That said, there is presently no one collection or exhibit that screaming at me that it needs my efforts at hosting for accessibility to the collection. I am sure that I am unaware of collections that need help, but nothing is obvious.

The intention of my Omeka site was originally showing the Bohemian National Cemetery. That will take up a portion of the site, but the more I consider the four necessary levels that layer within the Omeka site, the more I see it like a roving storage cabinet mixed with museum jargon for creating a different way of seeing museums. It is great for theoretical organization and for posting Pinterest-style images, but when adding slide shows or storing URLs, the software is less than intuitive.

I tried playing with it and seeing what it can do. Four exhibits later and time spent, my site is no where near where I want it to be, but the basics show.

The interconnections of modern museums is great. Creating spaces for telling stories to engage audiences is good. Non-contextualized case-bound items that otherwise turn into dust collectors without easy access to cleaning is ineffective. Omeka feels like option 2 at this point in my process systems, but it morphs toward one the more I organize my collections and items. Each piece is a stand-alone item, and then, as if a committee decided on the design elements, it goes into one of a different layouts. I do not want to say anything bad about the design layout. I also have the free version of Omeka, which may give about as many bells and whistles as a New Year’s Eve throw-away noise-maker compared to the full brass band that may come when a person pays for the software.

I just want this to work right and it’s not there yet.

GenealogyDr Omeka Site

That said, I am using it as the beginning of a public roving research cabinet of curiosities which envelops my present research hobbies and obsessions. The exhibits area houses the Bohemian National Cemetery project, which also takes in the Eastland Disaster and maybe St. Luke’s Cemetery across the street. After this is content on the historical mapping app otherwise developing on this blog in bits. From there is my pet project concerning the history of digital family history where I show progression from analog to digital elements in the LDS sphere. There there is my case study in social history concerning the West Point Foundry with its multiple stages and levels.

I want to do more with Omeka, and know that there will be more uses for this the more that I develop what I have. Instead of starting with the items and the collections as is the normal case for any museum, my present interpretation runs backwards. I know what the exhibits are in the broad schema. Portions of the exhibits end up as sections, and then pages as I assemble more information, bring the best pictures possible together to demonstrate Omeka’s capabilities, and then focus on a display-case of sorts that is my research.

For me, this is how Omeka works. I have pictures that I will continue assembling in various stages, but my Omeka is simply about self-expression. I do not prefer to make myself into a literal display, but I need feedback and this is the easiest way that I see of receiving it. I sincerely hope and wish for kind treatment, but once something is public, heaven help you.


Feel free to comment.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s