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Tutorials + Resources

Omeka S

Kristina Golubiewski-Davis | Last Updated: Fall 2021

Omeka is a web content management system (CMS) geared towards creating digital exhibits.  It is based on the principles of collections management, with the goal to create a digital exhibit with a similar organizational structure to a physical exhibit. 

IMPORTANT NOTE:  There is no auto save while editing in Omeka.  We recommend clicking on the save button often. 

About Omeka

Omeka Sites is built using three basic concepts:  Items, Item Sets, and Sites.  Understanding how these three things fit together is essential to being able to build an Omeka site.  The descriptions below use simple shapes as examples of items.



These are the base building blocks of an Omeka site.  An item is an object that you have media and information about that you want to display in your digital exhibit.  For example, I might want to create an exhibit about water bottles.  A single water bottle would be the item.  In Omeka, an item allows you to attach additional information about that item to record (such as who owns the water bottle, what color it is, who manufactured it, etc.).   This additional information is called metadata.

Below are two shapes with some metadata associated with them.  The fields, such as "title" and "description," for the metadata below come from Dublin Core, which is a commonly used and accepted set of vocabularies to talk about resources, such as books or objects.

Title: Cyan Square
Description: A rounded square shape with a hex color assignment of #33BBEE
License: Open Source - details can be found at
Source: Font Awesome 4.7.0 vector icon

Title: Orange Circle
Description: A circle shape with a hex color assignment of #EE7733
License: Open Source - details can be found at
Source: Font Awesome 4.7.0 vector icon

Item sets

These are groups of items that are collected together based on the needs of the exhibit.  With the water bottle example, I might want to create a set of all the water bottles that can keep water cold and another set of water bottles that are larger than 1 liter.  Each of these would be a set and would consists of several items.  Below, you can see two different item sets using basic shapes.  One is a set of items that is grouped by color, and the other is a set of items that is grouped by shape.  In Omeka, you would be able to click on each of these items and view the associated metadata.  Item sets can also have their own metadata,  separate from the metadata of the individual items.  

Item Set 1

Title: Squares
Description: This set of items contains only square items.  The square are of various colors and sizes.


Item Set 2

Title: Orange shapes
Description: This set of items contains a variety of shapes that are orange.


The Omeka sites is your final website.  Omeka sites are organized by blocks of information, such as text, items with metadata, or a table of contents.  You can share regular text and image blocks similar to any other website, but you can also show item sets that link out to individual items with all of the associated metadata.  Be sure to check out the "Create an Omeka Site" below for all the details.  Here's an example of what your Omeka site might contain, using the shape examples from above. I've put things in boxes with a grey heading telling you what type of box it would be, so you can see how the building blocks go together, but the boxes and grey text would not be visible on the site itself - just the information.


(Title Block)

Basic Shapes


(HTML Block)

This example shows you some of the basic shapes that we all know and love. We can use basic shapes to understand different ways to organize things! In this short example, I'll share with you one ways to organize shapes. In an Omeka page, you would be able to click on any of the titles for the object previews. The items will show in a gallery format using the Item Showcase, which is slightly more difficult for me to re-produce here.


(Item showcase Block)

Title: Cyan Square

Title: Orange Square

Title: Magenat Square


(HTML Block)

This is how a basic Omeka site is organized. I hope you found that helpful! Continue to read the information below to learn how to add media, text, and other information to your Omeka site and how to create your items, item sets, and sites.



TIP - If you know your site and the types of item sets you have, you can create your site first, them your item sets, and then your items. This way, when you create your items, it will be easier to add them directly to your item sets and your sites. No matter what order you create them in, you'll always be able to add them to the relevant sections.

How to Add an Item to Omeka

In Omeka, an item is an object that you want to use in your exhibit.  Using a museum as our reference, an Omeka item is equivalent to an object that the museum holds, such as a rare book or an art sculpture.  That object has additional information associated with it, such as the creator of the object, what rights are associated with the object, and what area of the world that object comes from.  This data is known as Metadata.  Omeka has built in libraries for Dublin Core metadata terms, bibliographic terms, and "friend of a friend" terms, which are typically used for interview data.

The instructions below can be used to add an or edit an item.

NOTE: If you know what site and item sets you want to add your items to, we recommend creating those first to make it easier to add your items to those groups.

Click on Items in the left hand menu.  Then choose "Add new item" in the upper right hand corner. 

This will create a new item for you with five tabs for information that you can add.


IMPORTANT NOTE:  There is no auto save while editing Omeka items.  We recommend clicking on the save button often. 

This tab is where you'll add most of the information related to your item.

Resource Template:  If you are working as part of a class, you may have a class template created for you.  This template will provide the metadata items you're expected to fill out for your item.  Choose that template under Resource template - select a template.  If there is no template, you can still add metadata fields manually.

Class:   The class field refers to the type of item you are uploading.  Choosing that class (such as "image") will provide you with common metadata items related to images.  If you are working in a dsc-omeka site, your instructor should provide you information about whether or not you should use this option.

Additional Fields: At a minimum, it's recommended to have a title and description for each item.  To add additional fields, you can use the search option on the right hand menu or expand the list of existing properties and search for the field you want to add.  Click on the term in the menu to add it to your object.

Once you add the term, you'll need to choose what you're going to fill that field with.  In most instances, it will be a text box.  

The media tab is where you'll add any images, video, .pdf files, websites, etc. to your item.  You can add multiple media files to an item (such as pictures of an object from multiple angles), but it is best practice to only add media files that have the same metadata in the values tab.  To add media, choose the media type you want to add from the right hand menu by clicking on it.

Upload Files: You can upload most file types that are 2mb or smaller.  Typically, these are images and .pdf files.  If your image is too big, you can provide a link to the image hosted elsewhere or follow our image compression guide to make it smaller.  For .pdf files, we recommend break the .pdf into multiple parts.  You must specifiy an upload file for Omeka to save the item if you 

URL: A url can be used to point to media hosted elsewhere on the web that is too big to upload.  Your url must start with "https://", and you must have a website address in the "url" field to be able to save using this option. 

YouTube: YouTube videos can be added as media for items using the link in your browser.  You can also specify the start and end points of the video.  The YouTube URL must be filled out for your item to save with this option.

Other media types

Omeka can also use html, IIIF images, and oEmbed items as media items.  Most classes the library supports don't use these items.  For more information on how to use these media types, visit the Omeka S Handbook.

Item sets Tab

Item Sets are groups of items that go together.  Any item sets you have edit access to will be on the right.  Click on the item set to add an item to that set, or click on the trash can on the item set in the main working area to delete an object from that item set.  

The sites tab lists the sites within the Omeka instance that your item can be used in.  Your item will automatically be added to any site you have edit access to upon creation of the item.  To add the item to a site that is created after the item, chose the site from the right hand panel.  The advanced settings tab lets you choose a specific thumbnail for the object and assign an item owner (depending on your role within Omeka).

How to Add an Item Set to Omeka

Omeka S organizes items by "item sets".  We recommend creating any known item sets first so that when you create your items you can add them to your unique item set as soon as you create those items.

An item set is a collection of items that are related in some way.

To create an item set:

1.  Navigate to "Item sets" on the left hand menu.  Choose "Add new item set" from the top right corner.

2.  Unless otherwise instructed for your course, you can leave "Resource Template" and "Class" empty.

3.  Provide your item set with a unique name and description.  Remember - you want to be able to identify this set.  If you are likely to have classmates working with similar groups of items, we recommend adding your initials to the set name.  For Example:  "Water bottles by Kristy gd"

4.  If you have any metadata that is associated with your items as a group, you can add it here.  Click on the down button next to "Dublin Core" and then click on the metadata field you want to add.  Most metadata will be added on an item by item basis, and it is not unusual for no metadata to be dragged over.

5.  Click "save" in the upper right hand corner to save your item set.  

1.  From the "Item sets" menu, click on the title of your item set to add items.


2.  Click on "View items" from the item set page.


3.  You will now see a list of all the Items in your item set.  You can edit any Items from this screen by clicking on the pencil next to the item's name as long as you are the owner of the object.  To add a brand new item from this screen, you can click on "Add new item" and follow the instructions on how to add an Omeka item.

NOTE: You can only add items to item sets you have edit access to.  

1.  Navigate to the "Items" menu and click on the pencil button next to the item you want to add.


2. You'll see a list of all item sets the item is part of on the right.  If the item set you want the item to be listed in is not there, click on "Edit Item" in the upper right corner.


3. Click on the "Item Sets" tab.  To add your item to a new set, find the owner of the set on the left (this is usually you).  Click on the down arrow, and then click on the set name to add your item to that set.  An item can be part of multiple sets at the same time.


4.  To remove an item from an item set, click on the trash can next to the name of the item set.

NOTE: This method only allows you to add items to item sets you've created.  To add items to item sets other people have created, use the instructions below for how to add multiple items to an item set if you have editor access.  Otherwise, you cannot add items to item sets you don't own.  

1.  Click on the Sites tab, and then click on the pencil to edit your site.


2.  In the left hand menu, click on "Resources" under your Site Admin section to view the items and item sets associated with your Omeka Site.


3.  Click on the "Item Sets" tab.  Then use the pane on the left to find the item set you want to add, and click on that set to add it to your site.  You can add any item sets owned by any user on the site to a site you manage.  However, depending on your role within Omeka, you may not be able to edit the items or item sets that you add.  If this is the case, you will need to rely on your group members to make sure their items are properly updated.

To add multiple items to an item set, or to add an item to an item set you didn't create, you need to have the "Editor" role.

1.  Go to the "Items" menu on the left, and click the check box next to every item that you want to add to your item set.


2.  Click on "Batch Actions" and choose "Edit selection".  Then hit "Go".
NOTE:  Make sure that you have made the correct drop down choice.  If you choose "Edit all", you will be editing all the items that exist in the site.


3. Add the item set you want to add your items to under "Add to item sets".  


4.  Double check that you have the correct list of items on the left, the item set you want, and hit "Save."

How to Create and Organize your Omeka Site

This page has broken up the Omeka site editing into two sections.  This sections explains the different aspects of your site overall: how to add pages, items, editors, and so forth.  The next section describes how to edit a specific page by adding text, images, and Omeka items to your pages.

For every section in this page, you must first follow the steps to edit an existing Omeka Site.

Not all users can create new sites.  If your class is not set up for you to create your own site, there will already be a site with your user name added as an editor.

1. To create a new site, start by clicking on the "Sites" menu on the left.


2. Give your site a name.  If you want, you can give your page a custom slug.  The slug is the last part of the URL.  For example. the URL of the page you're currently reading is "".  The slug for this page is "OmekaS".  You also have the option to add a page description.  If you give your page a description, it should be a short description of what someone could expect to read on your page.  You can think of the description as similar to an abstract for a paper.  Once you've given your site a name, click "Add".


If you already have a site, or one was created for you, Click on the sites option on the left to find a list of sites.

Among that list, you'll see at least one site that has a pencil next to it - this is your site!  Click on the pencil to get to the options to edit your site.  Each of the options are explained in the sections below.


The first you'll see is your site admin page.  Here, you can rename your site.  If you want, you can give your page a custom slug.  The slug is the last part of the URL.  For example. the URL of the page you're currently reading is "".  The slug for this page is "OmekaS".  You also have the option to add a page description.  If you give your page a description, it should be a short description of what someone could expect to read on your page.  You can think of the description as similar to an abstract for a paper.  Once you've given your site a name, click "Add".


To add a new page, choose the "pages" option on the left hand navigation under your Site menu options.  Then click on "add page" in the upper right corner. 


GIve your page a name, a custom slug if you want, and check if you want it to show up on your site navigation.  Then click "Add".


In the next screen, you can edit your page here, or just create your page as a placeholder.  Omeka uses a block system to add information to your page and re-organize it.  You can read more about the block system, what each block does, and how to add text and items to your page in the next section.

Once you are done editing your page or creating your placeholder, make sure to hit Save.  Remember - there is no auto-save!

Your site navigation is where you can arrange what order your pages are listed in the navigation section of the page.  The default theme lists the pages in order from left to right underneath the site name.  Omeka pages are mobile friendly, and the navigation will collapse and show this symbol  if the screen is not side enough. Here is what an example site navigation looks like on a computer screen.


To edit your navigation, start by going to the navigation section on the left hand navigation under your Site menu options.  Any pages that you clicked "Add to Navigation" when you created the page will show up here.  You can change the order of the pages in the following ways:

  • To add a link to a page that is not on the list, click on the name of the page in the left hand menu. 
  • Drag and drop the grey boxes to re-order the pages.
  • Use the trash can icon to remove a page from the navigation.



In addition to pages that you create, you can add the following types of links to your navigation:

Custom URL:  This will link to any url you want it to.  For example you could add the UCSC Library homepage as one of your navigation items.  It's important that you start the URL with https:// for this option to work correctly.

Browse / Browse item sets:  This will bring up a list of all items in the site or all the item sets.  Here is an example of what that looks like when browsing all items:


TIP: Nesting pages

You can also nest your navigation pages.  To do that, drag one page under the page that you want to nest it under.  You can create multiple tiers of nesting.


This is where you can view any items or item sets that are part of your Omeka Site.

Items are added to a site when you edit the item.  For instructions on how to add items, view the "How to Add an Item to Omeka - Sites Tab" Information above.  You can only add an item to your site that you own.  If you're working with a partner, you'll need your partner to add their items to the site.

It's important to note that you add items to your site separately from item sets.  Even though you have an item set added as a site resource, not all items will be added.  This is important for when you edit your pages.  You should add all of your items to your site when you create them.

Unlike items, you can add item sets that anyone owns.  For instructions on how to add item sets, view the " How to Add an Item Set to Omeka - How to Add An Item set to your Omeka Site" above.

User Permissions provides you a list with all of the people who can manage, view, or create pages in your site.  Managers can add new users, creators have full edit permissions, and viewers can view the sites backend, but can't edit anything.

You are most likely to have either a manager role (so you can add group members) or a creator role (if your group is pre-assigned).

The Omeka site hosted by the DSC currently has only the default theme.  If and when other site themes are available for use, you would be able to change the theme here.

How to Edit your Omeka Site Pages

Omeka pages use "blocks" to organize information on the page itself.  There are 9 different types of blocks, which are described below.

Note:  Always make sure to hit Save!  There is no auto-save or backup for Omeka.

To edit a specific page, make sure you have the left navigation to edit your Omeka Site.  Then go to pages and choose the pencil button for the page you want to edit.


You'll be presented with the blocks that are on that page.  The page below has a Page title, html, and item with metadata block.  You can add more blocks by clicking on the block type to the left.  You can re-arrange the blocks by clicking and dragging the existing blocks on the list.  Click on a topic below to learn more about each block type.

Every page needs to have a title for the page.  You can change this at any time. 

The slug is the last part of the URL and will automatically be filled in to match the title you create your page under.  For example. the URL of the page you're currently reading is "".  The slug for this page is "OmekaS".  

if you change the title of the page, the slug won't change.  You will need to manually change it if you want it to match a new title.  This is not recommended if you've already shared your page with someone, as their link will no longer work.

The Page Title block will display the page title on the page.  You can choose to delete that block if you would like.

When to use it:

When you want your page to show a title.



How it will display:

An HTML block is usually a text block.  When you click on the box to edit the text, you'll get an assortment of text formatting options.  If you know html, you can click on the "source" button and write your html code here.  Omeka will take some html code and will strip out anything that it doesn't understand.  If you want to add an image, you should do that either using the Media Embed or one of the item blocks, for images that have associated metadata.

When to use it:

Anytime you want to add text to your page.


How it will display:

This block is where you can add media from one of your items.  You have some limited options about how big the image can be (large, medium, or square), and how it's oriented on the page.  The image will link to the Omeka item, where your reader can read all the additional information about that object.

When to use it:

When you want to add an image along with the text.


When you add the item as an attachment, you'll have the option to choose which media you want to add.  In this example, you can see that I could choose any of the four images associated with the McHenry Library Omeka item.  Make sure to hit "Apply Changes" to add your media as well as "Save" in the upper right.


How it will display:


TIP 1: Use the float feature to align your image with the top of your text!

The float option will set the image to line up to the top of the block that comes right after it.  If you want to write multiple paragraphs and have a left justified image next to a paragraph, add your media first, left float it, and then add a text block with your paragraph.  You'll need to create a new text block every time you want to add a new image in.  Images can float left, float right, or be placed center.  Center placement does not wrap text around the image.

For example, this arrangement of blocks on the Omeka Page:

Will give you this output:


TIP 2: For a list of items, add more than one Omeka item to your media block!

You can add more than one piece of media from more than one Omeka item in your media block.  Below is a media block with multiple objects and the resulting gallery of images. To re-arrange the order, click on the set of three bars to the right of the object and drag it up or down.  In a media block, each item will always only have a single image per line.  If you want to have a gallery view, use the item showcase block.

The Browse Preview will add a limited list of items, or item sets, with their titles and descriptions.  In order to add a query string, you'll need to perform some specific steps.  Here is a link to the Omeka Manual that explains how to get the right text to past into the Query field.  If you don't use a query, it will just show a subset of all the items (or item sets) that are available to your site.

When to use this:

When you want to share a subset of items that would show up under the "browse" pages.


If you plan to add a search query, you'll need to first perform a search in Omeka.  You can use the search function on the left.  Once you have a search string that you want to share, you'll need to copy everything after the "?" in your URL.  Here is how I got the search string shown above.

How it Will Display:

Item show case blocks are similar to media blocks, except that they don't let text wrap around them.  Like with media blocks, you can add multiple items to the block.  Clicking on the title will bring the viewer to the full metadata for that item.  Unlike media blocks, multiple items will continue horizontally to create a grid instead of having just one item per line.

When to use this:

When you want to have a gallery of items that you're showcasing.


How it will Display:

The list of sites block will show all of the sites that are on your Omeka instance.  

When to use this:

If you have other sites that you want people to be aware of, such as if you want to have a list of other sites that were created in your class as part of your site.


How it will display:

The table of contents will list out your navigation for any pages that are nested under the current page.

When to use this:

When you have multiple tiers of nested pages and want your viewer to be able to see the other pages that are nested under that page.  If you put a table of contents on a page that has no nested pages, it won't display anything.  


How it will display:

This block will create a line between two different blocks.  Most blocks have a built in line break, with the notable exception of the HTML block.  You can make the line break a solid color, or you can make it clear to add some additional space between blocks.

When to use this:

When you want to put a line break between two pieces of text.  


How it will display:

This block will show a full item with all of it's metadata.  Any time you use an Omeka item in either a media block or an item showcase block, it will link to a page with the item, all it's media, and all it's metadata.  This block will show an item with all of it's metadata on the site page without having to link through.

When to use this:

When you want to add an item with all it's metadata to a page that has other elements, such as text or an item showcase.


As with the other blocks that take items, you can add multiple items in the options.  For this example, I have only added 1 item.

How it will display: