April 13-17, 2010
Denver, Colorado, USA

Demonstrations: Description

Museums in the Clouds:

Tom Scheinfeldt, George Mason University, USA

Less than two years since its first public beta release, Omeka ( has brought easy yet serious open source web publishing to hundreds of cultural heritage institutions worldwide. Produced by the Center for History & New Media ( at George Mason University, Omeka lets museums share their collections; display images, text documents and multimedia materials; create digital archives of user-generated content; and build rich narratives and collections-based online exhibits. Its adherence to Dublin Core metadata and W3C and 508 web standards and its simple and flexible templating system are designed with non-IT specialists in mind, allowing cultural heritage institutions to focus on content and interpretation rather than programming. In doing so, Omeka helps museums achieve top-shelf collections access and web design without the aid of expensive software licenses and vendors.

After the release of the 1.0 version of Omeka's server installable software in Spring 2009, the Omeka team turned its attention to a second major phase of development: the building of a hosted web service that will bring standards-based online collection or exhibition to the internet "cloud." Recent years have seen the tremendous growth of "cloud computing" and "software as a service" as formerly localized computing tasks have started to move online, for example as Outlook email has been replaced by Gmail or as desktop word processing software has been replaced by web services such Google Docs or Zoho. 2010 will see an analogous move for the Omeka project, as it begins offering collections and exhibitions publishing not only through its free downloadable software package, but also as a web service. Just as users of WordPress, the popular open source blogging platform, can choose either to install the software on their own server or to sign up at to have their blog hosted in "the cloud," users of Omeka will soon be able to choose either to download the server installable version of the software from or to sign up for a hosted Omeka installation at The new hosted web service will help Omeka meet its main objective of bringing standards-based, open source collections and exhibitions publishing to even the smallest and least technically savvy of museums.

By early 2010, a limited preview of the service will be available to beta testers, with a full public release scheduled for later in 2010. This demonstration will offer attendees of Museums and the Web one of the first glimpses of Omeka's new hosted service. At the same time it will give members of the Omeka team an unequaled opportunity to tap the ideas, experience, and enthusiasm of the Museums and the Web community as we finalize our beta testing, make changes according to community feedback, and move towards's public launch.

Demonstration: Demonstrations - 1 [Close Up]

Keywords: cloud computing, web services, online exhibitions, web publishing, open source, Omeka