Omeka versus Wordpress

This is for a small Museum in Africa that wants to redo the website with a CMS, and that would normally be with Wordpress.
That would be a claissic sute bwith possibly an online shop for digital pictures, and some online exhibition system.

However, the Museum has a project to digitize a large number of archives and would like to be sure the CMS we use will also possibly enable us to put them online. The digitization should be done within 2 years, so I have no idea what will be the format and specifications.
In the meantime, we heared about Omeka.

I am a Wordpress addict (open to other things though), and not very familiar with digital archives, so I wonder what would be the respective advantages:

What would be the limitations?
I guess it is not meant to manage large archive bases (speed/stability issues), nor to let users search them in a library style format (user experience), nor may be to deal with input formats (though there may be plugins)?

Seems fit for all the above...
But although the community is growing, it will not be as huge as wordpress and provide plugins for online shopping and alike I guess...
Also, how difficult is it to handle and customize?
I am a web project manager used to put hands in code, but not keen to spend nights learning a new system...

Here is a post called Omeka and its Peers that you might find helpful in making your decision:

WordPress doesn't handle collections or metadata associated with individual web objects very well. You could also combine WordPress with Omeka.

You might want to look at a site that was built for similar purposes as your site, then start inspecting the pages, and compare that with what is available in the Documentation in the Design and Develop sections:

If you can create a theme in WordPress, you will be able to create a theme in Omeka.

Thanks for your feedback!
Well... I can see Omeka will be better for managing collections for sur. And possibly for digital archives? (not sure how much Omeka does that... but at least it imports such data!)
While Wordpress has more CVMS features for a simple web site
The solution may be to combine the two...
And keep one theme w<orking on both.
But that becomes kind of complex!

Agnes, What did you decide? I'm working with a library in africa and wondered wordpress vs omeka, and what it would take to do both. thx!

We have decided to go onto Wordpress because:
- this is a system I know best and it is easier than learning new one
- there are plenty of freelancer who know it
Additionnallly, the project has plenty of custom requirements (mobile version, newsletter, ....) and you easily fond plenty of plugins on Wordpress which you would not noecessarily find on another system.
Finally, I think Omeka would work best for project with limited means and simple requirements that are the one of a classical museum. But for more elaborate projects it is good to have more margin of maneouvre....

Does the Omeka team know if there is anyone in the WordPress community who has developed a plugin or a set of plugins which can handle the metadata types which museums are used to using... I read and it seems that for the most part, some of the technological objections to WordPress have been overcome in the 2 years since that writing.

I'm not personally aware of any such plugin, but we have some members of the community here who are a little more savvy about the state of things with WordPress that could correct me on that. I wouldn't be surprised if someone in the amazingly vibrant WordPress community had done something like what you're mentioning.

For my part, I think the main differentiating factor between the two platforms is that Omeka makes the digital objects themselves, and describing them, much more of a focal point, and something that the interface, the themes, and the plugins build around.

Both Omeka and WordPress are pretty versatile systems, and with enough plugins and enough effort, each could probably run basically the same site. But I wouldn't want to use Omeka to run a blog (or a site like, which runs WordPress), even if the post and page data could be hammered into Omeka's item model or patched over with plugins and theme work.

By the same token, I personally wouldn't think of WordPress as the best tool to reach for when making a site that shies away from textual content, or that relies on structure when describing each piece of data, or that aims to have extensive metadata attached to every file. I do think WordPress has become much more amenable to that kind of data and customization with custom post types and some other newer features.

I think it's obvious Omeka serves a smaller, more niche community, but I'd like to see that as a strength, not a weakness.

@John Do you or anyone in the community do anything with progressive description of objects? So, we have a workflow which we want to add a social element to.

ie. we are an archive and receive a deposit of language tapes. We have an idea who was the recorder was, and what language the content was spoken in. So, obviously we have a limited amount of metadata about the content, but we would need to digitize the cassettes (another workflow with process and technical metadata to add to the objects). With digitization there is also images of the cassettes and sometimes we have transcripts or a JCard. So we have a multi-modal artifact. We want to display that artifact in a browser, and let various groups comment or add additional metadata into structured schemas according to ontologies/controlled vocabs as they can... This is the social aspect of the the workflow. Is there anyone doing this with Omeka?

Omeka would already have separate "buckets" to put the metadata for the different facets you describe.

As I'm seeing it, each recording is an Item, and the metadata about the recording: the creator/recorder, the language, dates, etc. is Dublin Core or other Element metadata for the Item itself.

The digitized recording, the images of the cassettes, the images of the JCards, each of those could be Files attached to the recording's item, and each File can have Element metadata just the same as the Item can, to record different dates, people, or processes. The proper place to store a transcript could be in an Item Type, or possibly in one of the Dublin Core or Dublin Core Extended (qualified) elements.

As for the social aspects, I know Scripto is out there for transcription. SimpleVocab and LcSuggest are there for suggesting and/or requiring metadata elements to conform to a controlled vocabulary or thesaurus. New Element Sets can be added if you're looking to describe your objects with a different schema.

We have Contribution for allowing public creation of new Items and Files, but public-side editing, or edit suggestion, on an Item or File isn't something I know of being done right now. Would-be editors of existing items would have to be brought in as users of the Omeka installation. That kind of workflow does sound like a very interesting idea for a plugin, though.

I believe the social needs for Omeka will grow as collaborative knowledge creation becomes an important part of education. We hope to use Omeka for a repository connected to a MOOC this fall, but the absence of the Contribution plugin for 2.2 may require us to use WordPress instead (would rather not). If the development of Contribution can benefit from additional outside developers looking at the code with the Omeka team, please let me know (or can anyone jump in on Github?). We'd be willing to put additional resources behind it. I think it's already close to completion based on recent posts I've read?

Yes, very close! Each run-through reveals smaller and smaller bugs, but enough to require more work. You can certainly try the current code on GitHub and submit pull requests (as others are also doing). Many thanks!

(Side-note, I'll be curious to see how Omeka works in connection to a MOOC!)

Glad to share the experience. Ideally, Omeka will be used for both the residential students and the MOOC students - crowd-sourced cultural artifact exhibit around HIV/AIDS.

Wow, this plugin is fantastic. Kudos.

Well, nertz. My instance automatically upgraded to 2.2 and the plugin fails at Guest User registration and submitting an item. I tried the latest on Github - same problems. Any advice? I had the error on submission before, but not on registration, which is more about the Guest User plugin I think (and not Contribution). Other issues: items cannot default to "public" and items submitted (My Contributions) are empty, so no way to edit what you've submitted as a Guest User...thanks!

We did find a problem with Guest User, the latests download might fix what you are seeing, at least part of it.

Yes, Guest User works with the newer version, thanks! Contribution still not functional. Before I abandon Omeka and move to WordPress for this crowdsourced exhibit connected to a MOOC, do you have any suggestions for either a functioning Contribution plugin timeline, or another way to allow users in to upload content and add metadata?

Release of Contribution for 2.2 is up!

Great! I may have something off in my instance. The "Contribute an Item" link returns a blank page. I tried to turn on php error reporting but no dice. Permissions issue?

Regarding the blank page error, I forgot to include a link to my site:

That is a very blank page! Have you turned on error logging, and checked what's in application/logs/errors.log?

Found the right way to turn it on. Here is the error:

Fatal error: Class 'Omeka_Form_SessionCsrf' not found in /home/represen/public_html/artifacts/plugins/Contribution/controllers/ContributionController.php on line 61

Ah. Makes me think I have a typo in the Contribution plugin.ini file, where it should require Omeka 2.2.2 for some security fixes. If you aren't on Omeka 2.2.2, maybe try updating to that, and I'll update that detail in the plugin data.

Many thanks!

Ok, thanks. I am on 2.2 through Reclaim Hosting's installers. They don't yet have 2.2.2, but I'll do it manually.

Thanks! The change is a security fix, so even though a pain, probably worth the time and effort. Hope all is fixed with the various upgrades.