Creating and Curating an Online Exhibition – Part 2 (AFF-611A)

This is part 2 of a two-part blog for my MA in Digital Humanities practicum. For part one, please click here.

In my previous post I outlined some of the steps that I had taken at the beginning of my practicum. This blog post will serve as a means of describing some of the issues that have arisen in the weeks since that blog post and how I have resolved them. It will also include some of the surprising successes and realizations I have gained as a result of dealing with the aforementioned issues. One of the highlights of the last couple of weeks regarding the project has been meeting with Jane O’Leary, founding member of Concorde. I conducted an interview with her regarding the site and asked her to prepare four pieces (one for each decade of the group’s existence) and to describe them musically and historically. I hope to create an interactive exhibit from these that will be implemented into the site.

Building an Omeka Site Locally

Having agreed on all of the technologies that would be used in the project, I set about setting up a local server on my laptop with which I could build the exhibition space. This was a somewhat tricky process, but with a little help I was able to install all of the software properly. I immediately noticed the difference and benefit of working with Omeka.org as opposed to Omeka.net. This version is vastly more customizable than the Omeka.net version with which I had built a prototype. Omeka’s local version facilitates more configuration with themes, a feature I availed of to give the site its own personality.

Initial wireframe of the home page.
Initial wireframe of the home page.
Screenshot of the finalised Home page of Concorde 40, I tried to fuse a sense of Concorde's past with a more minimal contemporary look.
Screenshot of the finalised Home page of Concorde 40, I tried to fuse a sense of Concorde’s past with a more minimal contemporary look.

One of the reasons I had initially chosen to use Omeka was that it makes it easyto not only display documents but to attach proper Dublin Core metadata standards to each artefact. While this allows me to document every artefact with some precision, there were a couple of drawbacks to this. Chief among these was that Omeka only allows a file size of up to 2MB to be uploaded to each item that is stored in the exhibition. As I had tried to digitize the artefacts at a particularly high quality in the digitization phase, most of the subsequent PDF files were larger than 2MB. To solve this and seeing no way to accurately batch process the PDFs without a substantial budget, I had to manually open each PDF file in GIMP, export each individual page as JPEG files and re-upload the files to Omeka. This has proven to be an arduous process, and has somewhat subdued the pace of the uploading process, meaning that I will probably have less artefacts uploaded as I would have liked by this stage of the project. However, these can be uploaded at a later stage, which I will address below. The Timeline JS software has worked perfectly however, and it does give the site a certain polished look which I think is very effective. I’ve implemented an example of this below;

The Project’s Lifespan

When undertaking a project such as this, one must consider that there are deadlines that are put in place as there are in any professional environment. However, the more I have liased with the CMC and particularly with founding Concorde member Jane O’Leary, the more it looks like this project will extend beyond the confines of the academic deadlines required of the practicum. This is great in my point of view, it looks as if the project will be launched at the retrospective events that will be taking place to mark Concorde’s 40th anniversary in September. I feel that this has somewhat given the project the possibility of a certain legitimacy as an digital repository. Upon consideration, this appears to have been the initial goal of doing a project such as this, and for this reason I think it has been an extremely beneficial experience thus far; one which I look forward to seeing the end results of.

Further reading;

“Concorde Contemporary Music Ensemble.” 2016. Concorde Contemporary Music Ensemble. <http://homepage.eircom.net/~concorde/proposals.html>.

Kuczma, Jason et al. “Using Omeka to Build Digital Collections: The Metro Case Study”, Web, http://www.dlib.org/dlib/march10/kucsma/03kucsma.html, accessed 04/04/16.

Morrison, Aimeé. “Blogs and Blogging: Text and Practice.” A Companion to Digital Literary Studies (2008).

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MA Digital Humanities student in An Foras Feasa, Maynooth University. BA Music from Maynooth University.

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