Difference between a Collection vs. Exhibit

Okay, I am new and just testing. What is the difference between a collection and exhibit?

I noticed I can upload items directly to an exhibit, but are they strictly for the exhibit or will they display in other areas? I guess I am trying to find out if collections are all items uploaded by an individual or how they work exactly.

And I will have users adding their own contributions to the site and would like to be able to have the items they list organized by contributor, does Omeka do this automatically or is this a plug in? I have not opened the site publically yet and doing this with one account gets a little tedious.

Last question, can I create exhibits with existing collections/items?

Collections are really just groups of items as far as Omeka is concerned. A few plugins will automatically assign a collection to items (for example, the OAI-PMH Harvester puts all items from a specific repository in one collection) but for the most part, you'd assign items to collections yourself.

You certainly could create a plugin that assigns items into collections based on the user who created them, but Omeka won't do that out of the box. (If you're using the Contribution plugin instead of creating actual user accounts, it will show you what items were created by which users, but only on the admin side.)

As for Exhibits, you don't really "upload" items directly to an exhibit, Exhibits use already-added items, like the rest of the site. Adding an item to an Exhibit doesn't stop it from appearing anywhere else it otherwise would, including any other Exhibits it may be a part of.

Exhibits are more about being able to manually organize and present items alongside some description or interpretation; they're about creating specific paths and specific layouts for users to traverse. On the other hand, Collections are simpler, they're just buckets of items, another way to organize and filter the set of items in your archive.

One final distinction: an item can normally only be in one Collection at a time, while it can appear in any number of Exhibits. If you want an organization-only system that allows items to be simultaneously grouped in several different ways, that's one possible use for Tags.

Awesome explanation. Thanks, that is exactly what I needed to know. It's a little more work doing it manually, but I think it will work. Thanks!