Collections and Exhibits

Hi all -
I've only done a very small amount of work with Omeka to-date, please excuse me if these concerns/questions have already been addressed. Also, if any of this discussion would be more appropriate in a different forum please let me know & I'll post there as well.

I have a number of image collections I'd like to migrate and/or host in Omeka, but I'm not entirely sure about methods. While it seems that there are a number of different ways I could approach this, I keep coming back to two methods.

1) Load everything by collection, and then use the ExhibitBuilder plugin to create a thematically appropriate delivery for each collection.
2) Load everything by collection, and search & display based on item-level tagging.

Each method has some problems. In 1), I don't have the person-power to create a 1500 image exhibit (drag & click, yikes!). Is there any sort of scripting that can be done to load/associate all of the images from one collection to an exhibit? In 2), would I lose the collection-level (or exhibit-level) theming? Is there a way to associate Omeka's theme with a given tag on an item?

Apologies for the lengthy post. Thanks for the neat platform - so far it's been a real treat to work in.


What is the purpose of your site? I'm not actually sure if you need to put your collection items into an exhibit in order for people to search and browse the images.

Are you interested in having your visitors browse and search through 1500 images--one page for one image (or multiple if they all pertain to one item), containing some metadata and a description? Or, are you interested in creating interpretative exhibits, using different combinations of those items and narrative text with text that is different from what is in the item's description field?

I don't exactly understand what you are asking for, but I'm sure this is just an issue of vocabulary. Let me see if I can help sort this out.

Items make up the Omeka archive. Collections are merely ways to organize items. You can have a browseable and searchable archive without any collections. Items can only belong to one collection at one time. Tags are used to organize items and exhibits. Tags are browseable and searchable; visitors can see those tags and click on them to find other items and exhibits containing the same tag.

In Omeka, a theme controls the design (look and feel) of the website and of its exhibit. Tags are keywords associated with items and exhibits only. Themes are not associated with tags.

Items are building blocks, and you use them, together with narrative text (present only in that presentation) to build an exhibit.

There is no way to batch upload to an exhibit (nor would I think you would want to), but you can batch upload images/files using the Dropbox or CSV import plugins. With the Dropbox plugin, for instance, you can upload a large number of images/files into a specific collection.

Did that help sort things out?

Hi Sheila -
thank you for your response, and my apologies for my hastily-written original message. I did a poor job of expressing my thoughts!

Let me see if I can be a little clearer with my concerns:
I have 20 different image collections - some are related by thematic content. The collection groups related by thematic content would benefit from having a display/user interface different from the basic Omeka theme; e.g. my collections of images related to forestry and logging in the Pacific Coastal Range would be enhanced by their own "front page" inside Omeka. These Pacific Coastal Range collections (there are 5) encompass ~4500 images.

Currently, I can easily upload the 4500 images with the CsvImport Plugin, associate them with their individual collections, and co-relate them with their thematic brethren with tags -- along with all of the other 15 collections.

So - at this point (hypothetically!), I have 25000 images in Omeka broken into those 20 different collections. As it stands now, I don't see a way to thematically differentiate between these collections. I'd like a different banner and colors at the top of the collections related to the Pacific Coastal Range, and different colors for the 1 collection that covers lichens and mosses as well as a page that gives a little more information about the collection, etc. etc.

A potential solution seemed to be following the above uploading procedure - and then using exhibits as containers for the collections to supply that sort of thematic difference.

Does that make a little more sense?

Unfortunately it doesn't seem like my scheme is possible with Omeka, although I'm hoping that I'm wrong.
Again, thanks very much for your time & assistance! I really appreciate any thoughts or suggestions you are willing to offer.


Collections and their items cannot have their own theme. And there is no batch uploader into the exhibit builder.

You could have multiple installations so that you can separate the collections that are completely different from all of the others.

I think you could apply a different look based on what collection you're viewing -- a little php code at the top that equates to: "if collection equals X then use CSS stylesheet Y". A lot can be done just by switching (or adding a second) stylesheet to the appropriate pages. One thing to consider though is that, from a usability point of view, changing the look between major sections of a website can be jarring and confusing to users.

Perhaps one of the Omeka folks can chime in with some sample code...

P.S. When you create a collection, there is a description box where you can give all the info you want about the collection. "This collection of images from 1890-1920 represent the work of ..."


Our library consortium is using Omeka to manage collections from several of our member libraries in one installation. Currently we have approximately 40 collections from a total of 10 libraries. We were looking for a way to make all of these collections availalbe while also bringing together the collections from each library.

We decided to create and "exhibit" for each library. Within each exhibit, I created a section corresponding to each collection. I selected a template for each page within the section and added some images representing the collection. For very small collections, it would be possible to include all of the images on an exhibit page(s), but most of ours includes dozens or hundreds of images.

On each page, I included relevant text--some are much more descriptive than others and then included a link to browse the entire collection. It is not perfect, but it does work pretty well and imposes some structure to the collections. We could also give a different look and feel to each "exhibit," by choosing different exhibit themes and page templates, but so far have kept things fairly consistent.

I'm not sure if this method is exactly what you are looking for, but it might get you part way there.

Here is a link to our site, in case you are interested:


cheers kkay & willis -
thanks to a coworker, we've hit upon a very similar solution; i.e. trying to use conditional if statements to dynamically control the display.

thanks for the replies!

Sorry I'm coming to this late, but yes, you should be able to alter the display per collection with conditional statements. I'd probably recommend setting a body class after retrieving the collection id from the url.

Did anyone successfully alter the display per collection as Ken described? Would you be willing to share examples of your code and specifics about where these conditional statements go?

Also, would this solution still work in Omeka 2.0?

Thanks for any details you're willing to provide!