In 2009 the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Vermont installed our first Omeka server. Earlier efforts for building online image or document collections, used dSpace and ContentDM. However, though these options allowed us to build collections, we wanted a program that would allow faculty to work with their students to create exhibits. The difference? While both are curated, an online collection is a database of objects in no determined order. An online exhibit allows the creator to frame the objects, images, or documents with a narrative, providing a designed pathway through the collection.
With Omeka, faculty could create opportunities for students to work directly with museum objects and primary documents to curate and build online collections. Then, through their research and writing, students could develop those collections into an exhibit.
To date, students from 14 courses have collected, curated, narrated, and designed exhibits using over 1500 items. Objects have been drawn from the University of Vermont's Fleming Museum, the UVM Library Special Collections, images drawn from multiple sources, and students' own photographs. These projects have been built by students in first-year through graduate classes. The emphasis is on the process of building and developing scholarly skills.
They have learned how to:
- search through manuscript and document archives
- select and curate museum objects, or search online for representative, copyright legal, images
- create digital facsimiles of historic documents
- develop standards-based metadata for those objects, documents, or images
- transcribe historic documents
- encode historic documents according to current scholarly standards using the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) Guidelines
- develop an understanding of the process of creating a scholarly online resource
Exhibits based on documents selected from Library Special Collections include:
- Restless Lady: The Life and Times of Francis Parkinson Keyes - the senior seminar in Women's History expanded the earlier FPK collection to over 400 documents while developing a more in-depth narrative about her life.
- Francis Parkinson Keyes - created by the students of HST 095: Digital History: American Women's History.
- Vermont Artisan Cheese - created by the students of HST 095: Digital History.
- Consuelo Northrop Bailey - created by the students of HST095 American Women's History.
Exhibits based on objects in the Fleming Museum include:
- EAT: The Social Life of Food - created by the students in HCOL 186A: Introduction to Museum Studies.
- Context and Meaning in Baroque Art - created by the students in ARTH 165.
- Human Forms, Human Functions - created by the students in HCOL 196F: Introduction to Museum Studies.
- Metals/Materials/Culture - created by the students of ANTH 250: Museum Anthropology Seminar (Note: this exhibit contains the content only, not its original design.)
Exhibits based on objects collected form multiple sources or photographed by the students include:
- Italy in Crisis: Plague in the 14th Century - created by the students of ART155: Plague, Art & Crisis 1300-1400.
- Working the Landscape: Vermont's Fields, Trails & Forests - created in conjunction with a physical exhibit in the UVM Library and built by the students of the Food Systems Graduate Program.
- UVM Tree Profiles - this ongoing project is being built by the students of multiple semesters of HCOL 185: Trees and Culture.