Free Tools for Creating Digital Exhibitions

Tech – Creating Online Exhibitions – Free Tools for Creating Digital Exhibitions

An online exhibition, also referred to as a virtual exhibition, online gallery, cyber-exhibition, Digital Exhibitions, is an exhibition whose venue is cyberspace.

Museums and other organizations create online exhibitions for many reasons. For example, an online exhibition may: expand on material presented at, or generate interest in, or create a durable online record of, a physical exhibition; save production costs, insurance, shipping, installation; solve conservation/preservation problems e.g., handling of fragile or rare objects; reach lots more people.

Access to information is no longer restricted to those who can afford travel and museum visits, but is available to anyone who has access to a computer with an Internet connection.

Unlike physical exhibitions, online exhibitions are not restricted by time; they are not forced to open and close but may be available 24 hours a day.

In the nonprofit world, many museums, libraries, archives, universities, and other cultural organizations create online exhibitions. A database of such exhibitions is Library and Archival Exhibitions on the Web.

5 Free and Open Source Tools for Creating Digital Exhibitions

Omeka – Create complex narratives and share rich collections, adhering to Dublin Core standards with Omeka on your server, designed for scholars, museums, libraries, archives, and nonprofits.

Omeka is a free, flexible, and open source web-publishing platform for the display of library, museum, archives, and scholarly collections and exhibitions. Its “five-minute setup” makes launching an online exhibition as easy as launching a blog.

Omeka is a Swahili word meaning to display or lay out wares; to speak out; to spread out; to unpack.

Omeka falls at a crossroads of Web Content Management, Collections Management, and Archival Digital Collections Systems.

Omeka is designed with non-IT specialists in mind, allowing users to focus on content and interpretation rather than programming. It brings Web 2.0 technologies and approaches to academic and cultural websites to foster user interaction and participation. It makes top-shelf design easy with a simple and flexible templating system. Its robust open-source developer and user communities underwrite Omeka’s stability and sustainability.

Until now, scholars and cultural heritage professionals looking to publish collections-based research and online exhibitions required either extensive technical skills or considerable funding for outside vendors. By making standards based, serious online publishing easy, Omeka puts the power and reach of the web in the hands of academics and cultural professionals themselves.



CollectiveAccess is software for describing all manner of things, and allows you to create catalogues that closely conform to your needs without custom programming.

CollectiveAccess is free open-source software for managing and publishing nonprofit museum and archival collections.

The two main components of CollectiveAccess are Providence, the core cataloguing and data management application, and Pawtucket, an optional “front-end” publication and discovery platform. Providence provides a relational approach to cataloging that allows users to create and describe relationships between different record-types, and construct hierarchical relationships for complex collections. Nuanced search and browse tools, advanced display and reporting tools, batch edit and import capabilities, superior media-handling and more enable users to catalogue almost anything. For publicly accessible collections, Pawtucket offers the web presentation tools that can bring an archive to light.

CollectionSpace free, web-based, open-source collections management software for nonprofit Local Museum or Gallery or Library and more.

CollectionSpace is a dynamic community of professionals working in the arts, humanities, social, and natural sciences. We collaborate to design, develop, and share a platform for collections information management that: supports traditional collections management activities; enables the integration of emergent and dynamic new technologies into the information ecologies of museums; and is an effective and affordable alternative to one-off applications developed in-house and proprietary offerings. CollectionSpace is freely distributed under the ECLv2 license.

Open Exhibits is an initiative, originally funded by the National Science Foundation, that looks to transform the way in which museums and other informal learning institutions produce and share digital exhibits. Open Exhibits is both a collection of software and a growing community of practice. In September of 2014, the Institute of Museum and Library Services funded a new project, Omeka Everywhere, which will tie Open Exhibits to Omeka, an open source web publishing platform for the display of museum and library collections.

Pachyderm Services is an easy-to-use multimedia authoring tool. Designed for people with little multimedia experience, Pachyderm is accessed through a web browser and is as easy to use as filling out a web form. Authors upload their own media (images, audio clips, and short video segments) and place them into pre-designed templates, which can play video and audio, link to other templates, zoom in on images, and more. Once the templates have been completed and linked together, the presentation is published and can then be downloaded and placed on the author’s website or on a CD or DVD ROM. Authors may also leave their presentations on the Pachyderm server and link directly to them there. The result is an attractive, interactive Flash-based multimedia presentation.