Winamp Logo
Sidedoor Cover
Sidedoor Profile

Sidedoor

English, National/National politics/National assembly, 1 season, 196 episodes, 3 days, 13 hours, 19 minutes
About
More than 154 million treasures fill the Smithsonian’s vaults, but where public view ends, Sidedoor begins. With the help of biologists, artists, historians, archaeologists, zookeepers and astrophysicists, host Lizzie Peabody sneaks listeners through Smithsonian’s side door to search for stories that can’t be found anywhere else. Check out si.edu/sidedoor and follow @SidedoorPod for more info.
Episode Artwork

Cosmic Journey II: Voyage into the Abyss

Hitch a ride on the Chandra X-ray Observatory as it scours deep space for some of the most enigmatic and misunderstood objects in the universe: black holes. What are they good for? Absolutely something.This is the second episode of a two-part journey celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory's operation of the space telescope. Join us this summer for a cosmic journey full of events and virtual resources from around the Smithsonian that will transport you from our closest star, the sun, to the far reaches of the universe.Find the full schedule on our website or follow along on social media @Smithsonian.Guests: Kim Arcand, Visualization Scientist and Emerging Tech Lead for NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Daryl Haggard, professor of physics at McGill University in the Trottier Space InstitutePriyamvada Natarajan, astrophysicist and professor at Yale University  
6/5/202432 minutes, 10 seconds
Episode Artwork

Cosmic Journey I: "Stellar Buffoonery"

Black holes could unlock the mysteries of creation and live at the heart of nearly every galaxy. But these invisible balls of extremely dense matter have never been fully understood, especially when they were only a theory. We travel through a cosmic wormhole back to the 1930s to learn how the first astrophysicist to successfully theorize a black hole, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, was ridiculed and rejected by his scientific community.This is the first episode of a two-part journey celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory's operation of the space telescope. Join us this summer for a cosmic journey full of events and virtual resources from around the Smithsonian that will transport you from our closest star, the sun, to the far reaches of the universe. Find the full schedule on our website, si.edu/cosmicjourney. Or follow along on social media @Smithsonian.Guests: Kim Arcand, Visualization Scientist and Emerging Tech Lead for NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Priyamvada Natarajan, astrophysicist and professor at Yale University  Arthur I. Miller, author of "Empire Of The Stars: Obsession, Friendship, and Betrayal in the Quest for Black Holes"
5/22/202434 minutes, 37 seconds
Episode Artwork

Cicadapalooza

The cicadas are back for some fun in the sun, and this time, they’re louder than ever! For the first time since 1803, Broods XIII and XIX will be emerging at the same time, covering the American South and Midwest with trillions of cicadas. As Smithsonian entomologist Floyd Shockley readies his nets for the biggest bug invasion in centuries, we look back at the emergence of Brood X in 2021, and explore how cicadas have captivated our human ancestors for millennia. Guests: Floyd Shockley, entomologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History Gao Hong, professional pipa player, composer, and educator Jim Deutsch, curator at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage Jan Stuart, Melvin R. Seiden Curator of Chinese Art at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art
5/8/202433 minutes, 5 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Birds and the Beans

"God in a cup." "Perfection." "The world's best coffee." Panamanian geisha coffee has been called many things, but never Smithsonian Bird Friendly certified. That might soon change, however, as researchers from Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute’s Migratory Bird Center find new ways to grow coffee in harmony with migratory songbirds. Join us for this fully caffeinated romp through Panama’s coffee farms as we learn all about the birds and the beans.  Guests:  Ruth Bennett, research ecologist at the Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute’s Migratory Bird Center Katherine Araúz Ponce, fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and PhD student at The University of Georgia Maria Ruiz, owner of Ruiz Coffee Distributors Ratibor & Aliss Hartmann, owners of Finca Hartmann, specialty coffee and ecotourism  Price Peterson, owner of Hacienda La Esmeralda 
4/24/202437 minutes, 21 seconds
Episode Artwork

Dude, Where’s my Carbon?

If you’ve bought a plane ticket recently, you’ve probably had the option to pay a few extra dollars to offset your carbon emissions. That money might go toward planting some trees… but how many trees? Researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute are trying to answer this very question by hand-measuring trees, weighing wood, and climbing to the top of the canopy. We tag along to see how carbon is measured, and why so much ends up in tropical forests.   Guests: Joshua Tewksbury, director of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama Helene Muller-Landau, senior scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute researching tropical forests and ecosystems, leader of ForestGEO Global Carbon Program David Mitre, research manager for ForestGEO at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Sergio dos Santos, project manager for the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Hydro-Meteorological and Oceanographic Monitoring Program in Panama Luisa Fernanda Gómez Correa, intern at the Forest Carbon Lab at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Eline De Loore, graduate student at Ghent University conducting research at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
4/10/202432 minutes, 36 seconds
Episode Artwork

Monkeyin' Around on the Devil's Island

It started as a rumor in the cafeteria of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama: monkeys on an island in the Pacific were doing something no one had ever seen them do before. But when researchers went searching for these elusive capuchin monkeys, they discovered more questions than answers. Guests: Claudio Monteza, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute fellow and researcher at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior Brendan Barrett, researcher at the University of Konstanz and the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior Meg Crofoot, director of the Department for the Ecology of Animal Societies at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior. Former Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute fellow
3/27/202428 minutes, 24 seconds
Episode Artwork

Face Value

Money is power. But who's on our money - or isn’t - can be just as powerful. While Lady Liberty has graced American coins and dollars for most of our history, it wasn’t until the 1970s that a real woman appeared on a circulating American coin. But that's about to change. Congress recently authorized the creation of twenty new quarters featuring American women from history. But how do we decide whose likeness gets engraved in our national story? And who makes these decisions? We’ll follow the money to find out. Guests: Jennifer Schneider, former program manager at Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum, current assistant registrar of outgoing and government loans at the Smithsonian American Art Museum Tey Marianna Nunn, former director of the American Women’s History Initiative at the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum, current associate director for content and interpretation at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Latino Ellen Feingold, curator of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History Joseph Menna, chief engraver at the United States Mint Tim Grant, public affairs manager at the United States Mint Dave Clark, supervisor of blanking annealing and upsetting at the United States Mint
3/13/202431 minutes, 54 seconds
Episode Artwork

Jeepers Leapers!

Did you know a person born on February 29 is called a "leapling"? This special episode is hopping with Leap Day trivia! Like, why do we need an extra day every four years anyway? And will I get paid for working an extra day in February? It's the lowdown on Leap Day in an episode that's as off-kilter as the earth's axis. Guest: Bob Craddock, Geologist at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum's Center for Earth and Planetary Studies
2/28/202413 minutes, 30 seconds
Episode Artwork

Til Death Do Us Part?

They say love is eternal. What about heartbreak? This Valentine’s Day, we bring you some of Japanese theater’s most popular tales of scorned lovers seeking vengeance from beyond the grave — with a burning passion. Guests:  Frank Feltens, Curator of Japanese Art at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art Kit Brooks, Japan Foundation Assistant Curator of Japanese Art at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art
2/14/202429 minutes, 20 seconds
Episode Artwork

To Sidedoor, With Love

From brontosauruses with bronchitis to birds on a wire to flying space rocks and a botched heist at 20 thousand feet. In this episode, Lizzie and Sidedoor producer James run all around the Smithsonian to answer listeners' questions from the Sidedoor mailbag. Guests: Lynn Heidelbaugh, curator at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum Sara Hallager, curator of birds at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute Jim Nollman, composer and pioneer of the “interspecies music” genre, conceptual artist, and environmental activist Cari Corrigan, research geologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and curator of the Antarctic Meteorite Collection Sharon Bryant, marketing specialist at the Smithsonian’s Office of Communications and External Affairs Matthew Carrano, research geologist and curator of Dinosauria at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History
1/31/202436 minutes, 22 seconds
Episode Artwork

Tails of Bravery

As long as there have been wars, animals have joined their human companions on the battlefield. But a few have served so bravely they’ve been memorialized at the Smithsonian. In honor of these furry and feathered war heroes, we bring you the tales of dogs, cats and birds who went above and beyond the call of duty.  Guests:  Jennifer Jones, curator of military history at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History  Frank Blazich, curator of military history at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History  Ann Bausum, author of Stubby the War Dog and Sergeant Stubby: How a Stray Dog and His Best Friend Helped Win WWI and Stole the Heart of a Nation  Scot Christenson, author of Cats in the Navy  Chris Willingham, president of the United States War Dogs Association
1/17/202446 minutes, 31 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Milkmaid Spy

Virginia Hall dreamed of being America’s first female ambassador. Instead, she became a spy. Joining the ranks of the U.S.’s first civilian spy network, she operated alone in occupied France, where she built French Resistance networks, delivered critical intelligence, and sold cheese to the enemy. All on one leg. Guests: Sonia Purnell, author of “A Woman of No Importance: the Untold Story of the American Spy who Helped Win World War II.”  Randy Burkett, CIA Staff Historian Christina Gebhard, museum specialist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History
1/3/202428 minutes, 55 seconds
Episode Artwork

Auld Lang What?

It’s a song we often hear at the start of the new year. But what does “auld lang syne” even mean? And how did it come to be associated with New Year's Eve? With a little musical sleuthing, we find Charlie Chaplin might have something to do with it… Guests: James Deutsch, curator of folklife and popular culture at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
12/20/202321 minutes, 18 seconds
Episode Artwork

Welcome Back, Otter

North American River Otters are popping up in places they haven't been seen in decades and nobody really knows why. As we search for answers we discover a trail of fish heads, poop splats and cuddle parties. Guests:  Katrina Lohan, head of the Coastal Disease Ecology Laboratory at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center  Alejandra Morales Picard, psychologist at Montgomery College  Rebecca Sturniolo, assistant curator of the America Trail at the Smithsonian National Zoo  Patty Storms & Marty Bachar, otter neighbors
12/6/202326 minutes, 7 seconds
Episode Artwork

Wrinkled Radicals

When Maggie Kuhn was forced to retire from the job she loved at age 65, her colleagues gave her a sewing machine as a parting gift. Outraged, she shut the sewing machine in a closet and, instead, stitched together the first-ever movement against ageism in the U.S. The Gray Panthers would galvanize gray haired citizenry and youth alike to challenge the way Americans think about aging.  Guests: Katherine Ott, curator and historian in the Division of Medicine and Science at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History Emily Krichbaum, founding director for the Center for Girls' and Young Women's Leadership at Columbus School for Girls and scholar of women’s history Paul Nathanson, founder and former executive director of Justice in Aging (formerly the National Senior Citizens Law Center), a national advocacy group for the elderly poor Jack Kupferman, president of Gray Panthers NYC
11/22/202331 minutes, 20 seconds
Episode Artwork

Farewell Giant Pandas

All three Giant Pandas are leaving the Smithsonian's National Zoo for China by the end of the year. What's up with that?! We sat down with the director of the Zoo, Brandie Smith, to find out why the pandas are leaving, and whether China plans to send more. This might truly be the end of a beara ... we mean era! Guests: Brandie Smith, John and Adrienne Mars Director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute Stephen Powers, panda fan
11/8/202329 minutes, 23 seconds
Episode Artwork

Resurrected: Spooked at the Smithsonian

The Smithsonian Institution was founded on principles of reason and scientific inquiry. So why is the Smithsonian home to countless tales of unexplained phenomena and—dare we say—ghost sightings? Inspired by an apparition at the National Museum of American History, we creak across museum attic floorboards, sneak into an old house in the woods, and even travel back in time to bring you a collection of spooky stories that can only be found at the Smithsonian. Guests: Molly Horrocks, Collections Manager, Division of Political and Military History at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History Pamela Henson, Institutional Historian at the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives Cpl. Ronald Howlin, Security Officer at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center Deborah Hull-Walski, Collections Manager, Education Collections at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History Melissa Johnson, daughter of Deb Hull-Walski and former skeptical teenager Kim Dixon, former volunteer at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo
10/25/202337 minutes, 54 seconds
Episode Artwork

CSI: Southern Pacific

Looks like these criminals used correct postage, 'cause justice is about to be delivered. Okay, there are no snappy one-liners in this crime scene investigation, but there are explosions, collisions, manhunts and even a cow who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. On the centennial of "The Last Great Train Robbery," we re-examine the evidence to find out how U.S. Postal Inspectors tracked down a band of old school outlaws using cutting edge criminal forensics...and postmarked them for prison. Guests: Lynn Heidelbaugh, curator at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum Chelsea Rose, Director of the Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology Kate Winkler Dawson, author of American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics and the Birth of American CSI
10/11/202338 minutes, 56 seconds
Episode Artwork

Cellphones Rock

Cellphones put the power of the world at our fingertips. With the touch of a finger, you can instantly connect with your doctor, have food delivered to your office or simply obliterate your niece at Words with Friends. And it's all made possible by rocks formed millions of years ago, deep underground. Join us as we bust open our devices to figure out how these stones power our phones. Guests: Joshua A. Bell, curator of globalization at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History Michael Wise, geologist in the department of mineral sciences at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History Josh Lepawsky, professor of geography at Memorial University of Newfoundland
9/27/202328 minutes, 22 seconds
Episode Artwork

The 'Gentle Anarchy' of the Muppets

Icky Gunk. Moldy Hay. Kermit. You might recognize one of these names. Before Kermit joined Miss Piggy and Big Bird, he was kicking it with Sam and Friends — a local tv show in Washington, D.C. that launched Jim Henson's career. We journey back to 1955 to figure out how this eccentric cast of puppets built the foundation for everything Jim Henson would do afterwards, from Sesame Street, to The Muppet Show and even Labyrinth (we see you, David Bowie fans). And we venture into the conservation labs to learn what it took to revive these crumbling hunks of foam and fabric when they landed at the Smithsonian. Guests: Ryan Lintelman, curator at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History  Sunae Park Evans, senior costume conservator at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History  Bonnie Erickson, a director of The Jim Henson Legacy; creator of Miss Piggy  Craig Shemin, author of Sam and Friends: The Story of Jim Henson's First Television Show
9/13/202333 minutes, 32 seconds
Episode Artwork

It's Season 10!

Sidedoor returns for its tenth season on Wednesday, September 13th!
9/6/20231 minute, 45 seconds
Episode Artwork

A Wild Ride on the Pony Express

In 1860 the fastest way to get a message to a family member, partner, or colleague wasn’t by text but by hoof…specifically, a pony’s. In just ten short days the Pony Express delivered mail between St. Louis and Sacramento. To find out what it was like to travel this legendary trail, there’s only one way: get on a horse and follow all 2,000 miles of it. That’s what writer Will Grant did, retracing the route from Missouri to California over four and half months. This guest episode of the Outside podcast brings you an epic camping tale in the name of history.   We’ll be back with new episodes of Sidedoor in September! If you enjoyed this episode, find more stories from Outside at https://www.outsideonline.com/podcast
8/30/202330 minutes, 17 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Hungerford Deed

When a 200-year-old legal document anonymously arrived at his office, Smithsonian Libraries and Archives conservator William Bennett assumed it would be full of boring legal jargon. Instead, he found a juicy tale of family betrayal that would forever change what we thought we knew about the founding of the Smithsonian. In honor of the Smithsonian’s 177th birthday, we’re sharing one of our favorite stories from the Sidedoor collection. Guests: William Bennett, conservator at the Smithsonian Institution Libraries and Archives Social: @rwilliab (Instagram), @SirWilliamB (Twitter) Heather Ewing, author of The Lost World of James Smithson, and Associate Dean at New York Studio School Social: @HPealeEwing Richard Kurin, Smithsonian Distinguished Scholar and Ambassador-at-Large
8/17/202329 minutes, 8 seconds
Episode Artwork

Tyrannosaurus FX

When you imagine the sound of a dinosaur, you probably think of a scene from the Jurassic Park movies. How do sound designers make these extinct creatures sound so believably alive? And what does modern paleontology tell us about what dinosaurs REALLY sounded like? This guest episode of Twenty Thousand Hertz features Jurassic World sound designer Al Nelson and paleontologist Julia Clarke.   We’ll be back with new episodes of Sidedoor soon! If you enjoyed this episode, you can find more episodes of Twenty Thousand Hertz at 20k.org.
8/2/202324 minutes, 45 seconds
Episode Artwork

Special: People Eating People

A Smithsonian researcher has made a discovery we couldn't wait to sink our teeth into — what might be the earliest evidence of our human ancestors eating each other. This conversation is a special update from our past episode 'Did Meat Make Us Human?' Bon appétit! 
7/19/202313 minutes, 36 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Toxic Book of Faces

Before the invention of photography, only the rich could afford to have portraits of themselves. But in the early 1800s, a device called the physiognotrace democratized portraiture, making it possible or everyday people to have their images captured in silhouettes. A man named William Bache traveled the United States creating hundreds of silhouette portraits with the aid of the physiognotrace, leaving behind a ledger book that gives us a rare glimpse of early America. A ledger book…laced with poison. Guests Robyn Asleson, curator of prints and drawings at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery Nora Lockshin, senior conservator for archives at the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives Wendy Bellion, Sewell C. Biggs Chair in American Art History, and associate dean for the humanities at the University of Delaware Carolyn Hauk, doctoral student in the art history department of the University of Delaware, former intern at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery
7/5/202333 minutes, 14 seconds
Episode Artwork

Building a Movement

America has a long history of clustering heavy industry and toxic facilities in communities where people of color live. But in the 1980s, a series of events sparked a movement to fight back against these environmental injustices. We trace the history of the environmental justice movement from the farmlands of North Carolina to a watershed moment in the nation's capital.    Guests:    Vernice Miller Travis, environmental justice pioneer; Executive Vice President, Metro Group  Rachel Seidman, curator at the Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum  Charles Lee, a founder of the environmental justice movement; senior policy advisor, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights 
6/21/202330 minutes, 18 seconds
Episode Artwork

Recording the World

In 1948, Moses Asch set out with an ambitious project: to document the world’s sounds! 75 years later, that project has grown into one of the world’s most eclectic, iconic and LARGEST repositories of recorded sound… from American folk music, to sounds of everyday life, and even a serenade for turkeys. Folkways Recordings —as it's now known— lives on within the Smithsonian, connecting the past, present and future… through sounds. Guests: Michael Asch, anthropologist and son of Moses Asch  Jake Blount, musician and scholar of Black American music  Maureen Loughran, director and curator of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings Jeff Place, curator and senior archivist at Smithsonian Folkways Recordings  Anthony Seeger, curator and director emeritus of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
6/7/202336 minutes, 21 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Funk List

Women have long fueled America's greatest scientific achievements. But when you go searching for information about these women scientists, you'll likely come up short. Only 19% of articles on Wikipedia are about women. In the field of science, this difference is even more pronounced. But now, a team at the Smithsonian is using artificial intelligence and good old fashioned research skills to scour the archives for lost women of science and publish their stories … before it’s too late. Guests: Liz Harmon, digital curator, Smithsonian Libraries and Archives Kelly Doyle, open knowledge coordinator, Smithsonian American Women's History Museum Rebecca Dikow, research data scientist, Smithsonian Data Science Lab Tiana Curry, former intern, Smithsonian Data Science Lab
5/24/202327 minutes, 43 seconds
Episode Artwork

Get Off My Lawn

Nowhere in the world are lawns as revered as they are in the United States. The picture-perfect patch of grass is so deeply rooted in the American psyche it feels more like a default setting than a choice. Americans spend countless hours every year seeding, watering, mowing, and fertilizing patches of grass that don't make much sense, economically or ecologically. But why? In this episode, we dig into the history of our lawnly love to learn where the concept came from...and how we grew so obsessed. Guests: Cindy Brown, manager of collections, education, and access at Smithsonian Gardens Joyce Connolly, museum specialist at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Gardens Abeer Saha, curator of agriculture and engineering at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History Sylvia Schmeichel, lead horticulturist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History Jeff Schneider, deputy director of Smithsonian Gardens
5/10/202329 minutes, 52 seconds
Episode Artwork

Bill Nye the Sidedoor Guy

As a kid, Bill Nye spent whole days wandering the halls of Smithsonian museums. Now the Science Guy is back… to find his own blue lab coat and periodic table bowtie on display at the National Museum of American History. We sit down with Bill Nye to get schooled on science education, comedy, and the 1990s hit TV show that turned him into an entire generation’s favorite science teacher. Guests: Bill Nye, Science Guy This episode was produced in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Their exhibition, Entertainment Nation, shows the power of American entertainment to captivate, inspire, and transform. Through the objects and their stories, the ongoing exhibition will explore how, for over 150 years, entertainment has provided a forum for important national conversations about who we are, and who we want to be.
4/26/202326 minutes, 12 seconds
Episode Artwork

Space Marathon

Until the 1970s, women were barred from competing in U.S. marathons because of the belief that the "violent movements" would wreak havoc on their reproductive system, "thus defeating a woman’s true purpose in life, i.e., the bringing forth of strong children." Through a series of steps, stumbles —and one epic tackle— running pioneers like Roberta "Bobbi" Gibb and Kathrine Switzer blazed the trail for women marathoners who followed, including Sunita Williams — the first person to run the Boston Marathon IN SPACE! Guests: Sunita Williams, astronaut Jennifer Levasseur, curator, Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Peter Sagal, marathoner; host of NPR's Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! Bobbi Gibb, first woman to run the Boston Marathon Kathrine Switzer, first women to officially run the Boston Marathon
4/12/202333 minutes, 19 seconds
Episode Artwork

Monsoon Mood

We think of paintings as art, but can they also be a source of data? 300 years ago, a young prince inherited the throne in Udaipur, India, and brought with him some newfangled ideas about art. His court artists created massive paintings that flew in the face of convention, documenting real life events, times, places and even emotions —especially during the annual monsoon season. These paintings are so detailed that - centuries later - they can serve as archival records to help understand our own changing climate. Guests: Debra Diamond, Elizabeth Moynihan Curator for South Asian and Southeast Asian Art at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art Dipti Khera, associate professor, Department of Art History and Institute of Fine Arts, New York University Mark Giordano, professor of geography and vice dean for undergraduate affairs at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service This episode was produced in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art’s exhibition: A Splendid Land: Paintings from Royal Udaipur, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the museum’s founding and the 75th anniversary of Indian independence. The exhibition is on view through May 14, 2023.
3/29/202329 minutes, 18 seconds
Episode Artwork

Lights Out

Most people in North America can't see the Milky Way. The reason? We're ensconced in a luminous fog of artificial lighting 24/7. The evolution of lighting technology over the last century has made it possible to live, work, and play at any hour - day or night. But light pollution affects all life on earth, from humans to plants and insects. So, how did we find ourselves surrounded by a glowing shroud of electricity... and can we have the dark, without giving up the light? Guests:  Hal Wallace, curator of electricity collections at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History  Lisbeth Fuisz, coordinating director, Lights Out D.C.  Brian Schmidt, museum specialist, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History  Diane Turnshek, Astronomer; Dark Skies Advocate This episode was produced in collaboration with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History's exhibition: Lights Out: Recovering Our Night Sky. Through over 100 photographs, nearly 250 objects, interactive experiences, tactile models, and a theater program, discover why dark nights matter, rekindle your connection with the night sky, and consider how much light at night is enough—for whom, for what purpose, and who gets to decide? Lights Out: Recovering Our Night Sky is open March 23, 2023 - TBA. 
3/15/202330 minutes, 47 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Phantom Violins

When Sidedoor listener Cliff Hall bought a used violin, he found a tattered note tucked alongside the century-old instrument. Obsessed with this cryptic piece of paper, Cliff’s quest to find the owner of the violin unlocked a tale of subterfuge, scandal, and the Smithsonian’s first donation of rare instruments.   Guests: Deborah Shapiro, reference archivist at the Smithsonian Institution Archives, Smithsonian Libraries and Archives Cliff Hall, violin teacher and freelance journalist Kenneth Slowik, curator of the musical instrument collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History; artistic director of the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society
3/1/202335 minutes, 32 seconds
Episode Artwork

It’s Season Nine!

2/22/20231 minute, 40 seconds
Episode Artwork

Love Letters

They bring out the voyeur in us. And the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art is full of them. In three short letters, we offer a glimpse of tender moments in the complex lives of others. Guests: Josh T. Franco, Head of Collecting at the Archives of American Art. Liza Kirwin, Interim Director of the Archives of American Art. Jenny Williams, Associate Director for Advancement at the Archives of American Art.
2/9/202313 minutes, 41 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Cabbage Patch Kids Riots

In 1983, the Cabbage Patch Kids were released, causing widespread pandemonium in toy stores and in the media. How did a children's toy inspire such bad adult behavior? Slate’s Decoder Ring podcast explores the strange world of the Cabbage Patch Kids to figure out why they hit it so big. The answer involves butt tattoos, slightly grotesque faces, industrial innovations, an origin story in a cabbage patch, and serious accusations of copyright theft. We’ll be back with new episodes of Sidedoor soon! If you enjoyed this episode, you can find more episodes of Decoder Ring at Slate.com
1/25/202334 minutes, 30 seconds
Episode Artwork

King's Speech

This MLK Day we're digging into the story behind Dr. King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech —from its first draft to a rhyming poem and, finally, to the speech we all know today. This episode was previously released in February of 2022. 
1/11/202336 minutes, 11 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Monumental Imagination of Augusta Savage

Public monuments to honor Black Americans in the 1930s: that was the vision of Augusta Savage, a Harlem Renaissance sculptor who has been called one of the most influential artists of the 21st century. But the monuments she left behind might not be what you'd expect. Guests: Karen Lemmey, Lucy S. Rhame Curator of Sculpture at the Smithsonian American Art Museum  Grace Yasumura, assistant curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum  Tess Korobkin, Professor of American Art at University of Maryland, College Park
12/28/202227 minutes, 39 seconds
Episode Artwork

A Very Merry Sidedoor

What is it about a mistletoe that says “smooch?” And what the heck is figgy pudding anyway? The holidays are here again, and with them come songs, foods, and rituals so familiar we may not think to ask where they come from...until now! In this holiday special, we track down the origins of some puzzling Christmastime traditions, jingling all the way from Norse mythology to Victorian home cooking, the Emancipation Proclamation, and even out of this world. Guests: Margaret Weitekamp, chair of the Space History Department of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum; curator of cultural and social history of spaceflight Ashley Rose Young, food historian at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History Teddy Reeves, curator of religion at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture Jim Deutsch, curator at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
12/14/202238 minutes, 16 seconds
Episode Artwork

Lucy Hicks Anderson

Known for her smashing parties, lighter-than-air souffles and comedic wit, Lucy Hicks Anderson never let anyone tell her how to live her life – not even the courts. When her gender was put on trial in the 1940s, the publicity around her case made her one the first documented Black transgender figures in American history.  Guests:  Ashleigh Coren, Acting Head of Education for the Smithsonian American Women's History Initiative C. Riley Snorton, author of Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity
11/30/202226 minutes, 30 seconds
Episode Artwork

Reservation Math: Navigating Love in Native America

If you’ve heard the phrase, “full blooded,” you’re already familiar with the concept of blood quantum. But Native Americans are the only peoples in the United States whose identity is defined by it. Through the photography of Tailyr Irvine, displayed at the National Museum of the American Indian, we take a look at the colonial origin story of blood quantum: where it came from, why it endures, and how it continues to impact the most personal decisions many Native Americans make about love and family today. Guests: Tailyr Irvine, photojournalist; member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes; additional interviewer for this episode Michael Irvine, member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and Nizhóní Ajéí's father Cecile Ganteaume, curator at the National Museum of the American Indian and author of Officially Indian: Symbols That Define the United States Ruth Swaney, Tribal Budget Director for and member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Leah Nelson, member of the Navajo Nation and Nizhóní Ajéí's mother Desi Rodriguez-Lonebear, social demographer and assistant professor of Sociology and American Indian Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles; citizen of the Northern Cheyenne Nation and Chicana David Wilkins, political scientist and professor of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond; member of the Lumbee Nation
11/16/202233 minutes, 41 seconds
Episode Artwork

Wronging the Wrights

It took pride, deceit, and a giant catapult to set off the feud between the Wright brothers and the Smithsonian. On December 17, 1903, the Wrights made history when they flew across a blustery beach in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The airplane they flew that day is now a centerpiece of the National Air and Space Museum’s collection. This is the story of how it nearly wasn’t. Guests: Peter Jakab, senior curator at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Tom Crouch, senior curator emeritus at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum
11/2/202234 minutes, 59 seconds
Episode Artwork

Who Built the White House?

"I wake up every morning in a house built by slaves." After Michelle Obama said those words at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, thousands of Americans flooded the White House Historical Association with calls. Who were the enslaved African Americans who built the White House? This led historians from the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture and the White House Historical Association on a years-long journey that turned up some interesting answers and even bigger questions.  Guests:  Lina Mann, historian, the White House Historical Association Mary Elliott, curator of American slavery, Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture  
10/19/202224 minutes, 42 seconds
Episode Artwork

Spooked at the Smithsonian

The Smithsonian Institution was founded on principles of reason and scientific inquiry. So why is the museum home to countless tales of unexplained phenomena and —dare we say — ghost sightings? Inspired by an apparition at the National Museum of American History, we creak across the floorboards of the museum's attics, sneak into an old house in the woods, and even travel back in time to bring you a collection of spooky stories that can only be found at the Smithsonian. Guests: Molly Horrocks, Collections Manager, Division of Political and Military History at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History Pamela Henson, Institutional Historian at the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives Cpl. Ronald Howlin, Security Officer at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center Deborah Hull-Walski, Collections Manager, Education Collections at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History Melissa Johnson, daughter of Deb Hull-Walski and former skeptical teenager Kim Dixon, former volunteer at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo
10/5/202237 minutes, 20 seconds
Episode Artwork

Did Meat Make Us Human?

Eating meat is what made us human. At least, that's one of the leading theories to explain how our brains got so big. The theory says that our human ancestors evolved bigger brains as a result of switching from a plant-based to a nutrient-rich meat diet. But earlier this year a Smithsonian researcher discovered that this theory may not have as much meat on its bones as previously believed. Guests: Briana Pobiner, paleoanthropologist; research scientist and museum educator with the Human Origins Program at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History Becky Malinsky, curator of primates, Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute Andrew Barr, paleoanthropologist; assistant professor of anthropology, The George Washington University
9/21/202225 minutes, 25 seconds
Episode Artwork

Love in the Time of Emoji

When LOL just isn't enough to respond to a friend's killer joke, emoji are there for you. But for many people, there isn't an emoji to represent them or the things they want to say. This has pushed activists, designers, and straight up regular folks to create their own emoji. It's not as easy an undertaking as you might think, but every now and then one of these new emoji is so innovative it breaks the digital mold and finds itself in the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. In this episode of Sidedoor, we explore how one groundbreaking emoji is changing digital representation and the future of museum collections. Guests: Jennifer 8 Lee, Founder of EmojiNation Andrea Lipps, Contemporary Design Curator at Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum Evan Bonnstetter, Director of Product Policy for Tinder Keith Broni, Deputy Emoji Officer for Emojipedia
9/7/202228 minutes, 49 seconds
Episode Artwork

Dynamo Dot

Dorothy Liebes was a whirlwind in the weaving world. Throughout the 1930s, she spun luxury fabrics so bold and colorful that their style could only be described as the "Liebes Look." But when the United States entered World War II, she wondered how an artist like herself could be helpful at a time when “there would be no need for luxuries.” What she didn’t know was that wartime would bring an opportunity to put her weaving skills to work in an entirely new way. Joining forces with the American Red Cross, she brought professional artists to the bedsides of wounded soldiers - with results that surpassed Dynamo Dot's wildest expectations.   Guests: Alexa Griffith, manager of content and curriculum at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum Susan Brown, acting head of textiles at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum
8/24/202229 minutes, 55 seconds
Episode Artwork

Sumo Wrestlers vs. Firefighters

In 19th century Japan, two sumo wrestlers faced down dozens of firefighters in a brawl so epic it inspired a Kabuki play. But the story of what really happened —and who the heroes are— is all a matter of perspective. Underdogs, antiheroes and villains. How do we decide who plays what role? Guests: Kit Brooks, Japan Foundation Assistant Curator of Japanese Art at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art Frank Feltens, Japan Foundation Associate Curator of Japanese Art at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art
8/10/202224 minutes, 38 seconds
Episode Artwork

Culture in Crisis

"This is a war not only for the territory. This is war against our culture," says Ihor Poshyvailo, director of the Maidan Museum in Kiev, Ukraine. Ukraine has scores of museums, cemeteries, archeological sites, and places of worship where Ukrainian history and national identity are memorialized. But when bombs are exploding, who’s pulling a sculpture from the rubble? Enter the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative: a team flung together by a deadly earthquake in Haiti that grew through trial and discovery into an international network of professionals devoted to protecting the world’s treasures from threats by humankind and mother nature alike. Guests: Hayden Bassett, director of the Cultural Heritage Monitoring Lab at Smithsonian affiliate Virginia Museum of Natural History Olsen Jean Julien, project director of the Cultural Conservation Center at Quisqueya University in Haiti Cori Wegener, director of the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative Richard Kurin, Smithsonian Distinguished Scholar and Ambassador-at-Large, co-founder of the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative Ihor Poshyvailo, director of the National Museum of the Revolution of Dignity (Maidan Museum) in Kyiv, Ukraine Acknowledgments: The work of the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative would not be possible without the collaboration of countless partner organizations and collaborators, among them: the US government, including the Cultural Heritage Coordinating Committee, the Departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security and Justice, the FBI, Institute of Peace, FEMA, and the Heritage Emergency National Task Force; agencies of other governments like the Ministry of Culture in Haiti, the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage in Iraq, and the Ministry of Culture in Ukraine; other organizations like UNESCO, the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, International Council of Museums, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Institute of Conservation, the US Committee of the Blue Shield, the Penn Cultural Heritage Center and the University of Pennsylvania Museum, the Virginia Museum of Natural History, the University of Maryland, Prince Claus Fund for Cultural Emergency Response, FOKAL in Haiti, the Mosul Museum, the Heritage Emergency Rescue Initiative, the National Center for Research Restoration, and the Kosciuszko Foundation for Ukraine. SCRI’s work is made possible with the support of funders like the United State Congress, Department of State, Bank of America, ​Mellon Foundation, ALIPH Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Brad Freeman, the Broadway League, the Stiller Foundation, and the Roberts family.
7/27/202236 minutes, 8 seconds
Episode Artwork

Hubble Trouble

As NASA releases the James Webb Space Telescope's first images, we focus our lens on its predecessor: the Hubble Space Telescope. Prepare for liftoff, as we explore how America's first large space telescope went from a "billion-dollar blunder" to one of history's most important scientific instruments.  Guests: Samantha Thompson, curator of science and technology at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum  Robert Smith, former space historian at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum; author, Hubble: Imaging Space and Time  Jeffrey Hoffman, NASA astronaut who repaired Hubble in 1993  Sandra Faber, professor of astronomy & astrophysics at University of California Observatories/Lick Observatory
7/13/202231 minutes, 7 seconds
Episode Artwork

A Star-Spangled Bonus Episode

Which came first, the flag or the song? Sidedoor is celebrating this Independence Day with a special bonus episode: the story behind our Star-Spangled Banner. Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History military curator Jennifer Jones explains the origin and meaning behind the national anthem through the tattered piece of wool that lies at the heart of the museum. What are ramparts anyways? You'll find out! Guest: Jennifer Jones, military curator at National Museum of American History
7/4/202214 minutes, 14 seconds
Episode Artwork

Get Off My Lawn

Nowhere in the world are lawns as revered as they are in the United States. The picture-perfect patch of grass is so deeply rooted in the American psyche it feels more like a default setting than a choice. Americans spend countless hours every year seeding, watering, mowing, and fertilizing patches of grass that don't make much sense, economically or ecologically. But why? In this episode, we dig into the history of our lawnly love to learn where the concept came from...and how we grew so obsessed.   Guests: Cindy Brown, manager of collections, education, and access at Smithsonian Gardens Joyce Connolly, museum specialist at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Gardens Abeer Saha, curator of agriculture and engineering at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History Sylvia Schmeichel, lead horticulturist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History Jeff Schneider, deputy director of Smithsonian Gardens
6/29/202229 minutes, 44 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Sex Lives of Giant Pandas

Whether it's live on the Smithsonian’s National Zoo's panda cam or in front of a crowd, possibly no other animal's sex life is as closely watched as the giant pandas' is. And there's a reason. These cuddly-looking black and white bears just can't figure out how to mate. But, with a little help from science, the once-endangered giant panda is making a comeback. In honor of the 50th anniversary of giant pandas at Smithsonian's National Zoo, we peep into the (not so secret) sex lives of pandas. Guests: Pierre Comizzoli, panda sex expert and staff scientist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute Lisa Stevens, AKA “Panda Lady”; former senior curator of mammals at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo Stephen Powers, panda fan
6/15/202232 minutes, 7 seconds
Episode Artwork

It’s Season Eight!

Sidedoor returns for its eighth season on Wednesday, June 15th!
6/8/20221 minute, 5 seconds
Episode Artwork

Bonus: Yes She Did!

We’re hard at work producing the next season of Sidedoor, but just in case you can’t get enough Smithsonian podcasts we’re sharing a special guest episode of Portraits, from the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. In this episode, grassroots organizer Dolores Huerta talks about how she took on the status quo (in a wrinkled sweater) during the landmark Delano Grape Strike. All the time, she fought on two fronts: resisting exploitation and also resisting sexism, sometimes from within the very labor movement she helped to launch. You can subscribe to Portraits wherever you get your podcasts.
6/1/202226 minutes, 16 seconds
Episode Artwork

Bonus: Black Feminism Re-rooted

We’re hard at work producing the next season of Sidedoor, but just in case you can’t get enough Smithsonian podcasts, we’re sharing a special guest episode of Collected, from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. In this first episode of the series, co-hosts Dr. Crystal Moten and Dr. Krystal Klingenberg discuss the multiple definitions of Black Feminism, joined by guests Dr. Brittney Cooper, Paris Hatcher, Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs, and Feminista Jones. You can subscribe to Collected wherever you get your podcasts.
5/18/202218 minutes, 24 seconds
Episode Artwork

Bonus: Moonshine

We’re hard at work producing the next season of Sidedoor, but just in case you can’t get enough Smithsonian podcasts, we’re sharing a special guest episode of AirSpace, from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. This story is about a truly intoxicating period of American history – Prohibition! In this episode of AirSpace, you’ll learn how banning alcohol in the U.S. gave the fledgling air travel industry the shot it needed to get off the ground. You can subscribe to AirSpace wherever you get your podcasts.
5/4/202228 minutes, 46 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Hungerford Deed

When a 200-year-old legal document anonymously arrived at his office, Smithsonian Libraries and Archives conservator William Bennett assumed it would be full of boring legal jargon. Instead, he found a juicy tale of family betrayal that would forever change what we thought we knew about the founding of the Smithsonian. Speakers: William Bennett, conservator at the Smithsonian Institution Libraries and Archives Social: @rwilliab (Instagram), @SirWilliamB (Twitter) Heather Ewing, author of The Lost World of James Smithson, and Associate Dean at New York Studio School Social: @HPealeEwing Richard Kurin, Smithsonian Distinguished Scholar and Ambassador-at-Large
4/20/202227 minutes, 56 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Many Inventions of Beatrice Kenner

An accident that nearly killed Beatrice Kenner when she was five years old scarred her face for life, but it also gave her a determination to create solutions wherever she saw obstacles. This drive and ingenuity made her one of the most prolific African American inventors of the mid 20th century. This time on Sidedoor, we explore what might be Beatrice Kenner's greatest invention of all: an innovation for periods in a period of innovation.
4/6/202229 minutes, 11 seconds
Episode Artwork

Broad Stripes, Bright Stars and White Lies

Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag. At least, that's what we were taught in school. But when historians go searching… there’s no proof to be found. In this episode of Sidedoor, we unravel this vexillological tale tall to find out how this myth got started, and who Betsy Ross really was. Guests: Jennifer Locke Jones, political and military history curator at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History Twitter: @jonesjl_si Marc Leepson, journalist, historian and author of the book Flag: An American Biography @MarcLeepson https://www.marcleepson.com/ Book link: https://www.amazon.com/Flag-American-Biography-Marc-Leepson/dp/0312323093 Marla R. Miller, historian and author of Betsy Ross and the Making of America Twitter: @MarlaAtLarge Book link: https://www.amazon.com/Betsy-Making-America-Marla-Miller/dp/0805082972
3/23/202229 minutes, 51 seconds
Episode Artwork

Take Who Out to the Ball Game?

Baseball fan or not, you know this song…or at least, you think you do. “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” is one of the top three most recognizable songs in the country, next to “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Happy Birthday.” But long-forgotten lyrics reveal a feminist message buried amid the peanuts and cracker jack. Speakers: Dan Piazza, curator at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum  Andy Strasberg, co-author of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game: Baseball’s Greatest Hit”  George Boziwick, retired Chief of the Music Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and co-founder of the Red Skies Music Ensemble Nancy Faust, retired organist for the Chicago White Sox
3/9/202230 minutes, 22 seconds
Episode Artwork

Raven and the Box of Daylight

Before here was here Raven was a white bird, and the world was in darkness. So begins the story passed down among the Tlingit people of the Pacific Northwest since time immemorial. This origin story has survived by passing from the lips of one person to the ear of another – from generation to generation. In this episode of Sidedoor, Tlingit glass artist Preston Singletary shares it in a new way: leading us on a journey from darkness to light through dozens of luminous glass sculptures. Speakers Miranda Belarde-Lewis, independent curator and assistant professor of Information Science at the University of Washington IG: miranda505 Preston Singletary, internationally acclaimed Tlingit glass artist IG: @prestonsingletaryglass YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/PrestonSingletaryGlass Emil Her Many Horses, curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian IG: @SmithsonianNMAI | Twitter: @SmithsonianNMAI
2/23/202229 minutes, 49 seconds
Episode Artwork

King's Speech

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s I Have a Dream Speech is one of the most famous speeches in the world. But it almost didn’t happen. If you look at King's typed manuscript of his speech —which is currently on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture— you won't find the phrase "I Have a Dream." But even though Dr. King's speech was improvised, that doesn't mean it wasn't years in the making. In this episode of Sidedoor, we trace the evolution of King's dream, from a secret friendship, to an experimental poem, to the speech we all know today.   Guests:  Kevin Young, Director of Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture   W. Jason Miller, Author of Origins of the Dream: Hughes's Poetry and King's Rhetoric
2/9/202235 minutes, 34 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Robot in the Mirror

It’s easy to think artificial intelligence is objective. It doesn’t have emotions. It operates based on cold hard calculations. But artificial intelligence is built on human intelligence, and it may be carrying our old prejudices into the future with us. In this episode of Sidedoor, we step into the Smithsonian’s FUTURES exhibition to meet a very special robot who asks us to consider: whose image will be reflected in our AI future? Speakers: Stephanie Dinkins, transdisciplinary artist and professor at Stony Brook University Twitter: @dinkinsstudio @stephdink Instagram: Dinkins.studio, stephanie.dinkins Email: [email protected] Website: www.stephaniedinkins.com Ashley Molese, a curator of the Smithsonian’s FUTURES exhibition Social media: @smithsonianAIB, #TheFUTURES
1/26/202232 minutes, 6 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Fugitive Brewer

A skill for brewing beer and $100 reward for her capture. Those were the clues in an old newspaper ad that got Smithsonian brewing historian Theresa McCulla hooked on the story of Patsy Young, an enslaved African American woman who fled to freedom in 1808 and made a life for herself brewing beer. In this episode of Sidedoor, we follow McCulla as she scours historical documents to retrace Young's life and find out who she was...and what happened after her escape. Guests: Theresa McCulla, Curator with the Smithsonian’s American Brewing History Initiative at the National Museum of American History Mary Elliott, Curator of American Slavery at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture Frank Clark, Master of Historic Foodways at Colonial Williamsburg
1/12/202229 minutes, 25 seconds
Episode Artwork

Edison’s Demon Dolls

In 1890, Americans were delighted when they heard the news that Thomas Edison was using his phonograph technology to give voice to porcelain dolls. But their delight soon turned to horror. In this episode of Sidedoor, we’ll hear a short story that imagines what happens when two little girls receive one of Edison’s talking dolls as a holiday gift. And we’ll speak with an expert from the National Museum of American history to learn what went wrong with Edison’s invention.
12/29/202126 minutes, 19 seconds
Episode Artwork

Chiura Obata’s Glorious Struggle

When Chiura Obata painted “Moonlight Over Topaz, Utah,” he was a prisoner at the camp: one of 120,000 Japanese Americans to be incarcerated during World War II. The painting shows a dreamy moonlit desert, with just a few dark lines to hint at the barbed wire fences and guard towers that held him and his family captive. As a painter, Obata turned again and again to nature as his greatest teacher, and his greatest subject. Today, his work can be found in art collections and museums around the world, including the Smithsonian's American Art Museum. This time on Sidedoor, we learn from Chiura Obata about the power of art in tumultuous times. Speakers: Rihoko Ueno: Processing archivist at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art Noriko Sanefuji: Museum specialist in the Division of Cultural and Community Life at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History @apacurator @amhistorymuseum ShiPu Wang: Coats Endowed Chair in the Arts and Professor of Art History at The University of California Merced. Curator of the traveling exhibition, “Chiura Obata: An American Modern.” @curatingobata Kimi Hill: Chiura Obata’s granddaughter and author of the book, “Topaz Moon.”
12/15/202133 minutes, 32 seconds
Episode Artwork

Love in the Time of Emoji

When LOL just isn't enough to respond to a friend's killer joke, emoji are there for you. But for many people, there isn't an emoji to represent them or the things they want to say. This has pushed activists, designers, and straight up regular folks to create their own emoji. It's not as easy an undertaking as you might think, but every now and then one of these new emoji is so innovative it breaks the digital mold and finds itself in the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. In this episode of Sidedoor, we explore how one groundbreaking emoji is changing digital representation and the future of museum collections. 
12/1/202127 minutes, 50 seconds
Episode Artwork

Light of Freedom

There’s a new sculpture at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden: a giant torch that’s strikingly familiar – and entirely unique. Artist Abigail DeVille has reimagined the Statue of Liberty’s torch to shine a light on historical contradictions of American freedom. Through her work, DeVille asks us to re-examine the stories we’ve inherited as a nation, including the story of Lady Liberty herself. As it turns out, the statue holding her torch alight in New York Harbor today has come to stand for something very different from its original intention. Born out of the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, Light of Freedom reflects the historical origins of the Statue of Liberty and challenges us to confront the idea that liberty itself is a work in progress.    
11/17/202127 minutes, 49 seconds
Episode Artwork

King of the Herbs

It’s a wild herb that countless cultures have used for centuries as a wonder drug to cure any ailment. It's so rare and valuable that it’s been dug to extinction nearly everywhere, except a small area of the United States. This time on Sidedoor, we go searching for the elusive wild American ginseng — and find that scientists, conservationists, and criminals are also on the hunt.
11/3/202129 minutes, 36 seconds
Episode Artwork

Bloodsuckers!

Leeches don’t get a lot of love. They’re slimy, wriggly, and, well, they suck — blood that is. But there’s a lot to learn about the lowly leech. Led by a troupe of Smithsonian experts, we’ll discover how these toothy hangers-on wormed their way into medical practices, performance art, and EVERY human cavity. Yes, even that one. It's a journey of discovery from the swamp to the stage and deep into the vaults of the Smithsonian. And it just may leave you with a little more appreciation (dare we say, love?) for the bloodsuckers. 
10/20/202130 minutes, 35 seconds
Episode Artwork

Make Way for Elephants

The endangered Asian Elephant may be a conservation success story as its rapid decline appears to be stabilizing. But this has created a new set of problems. With little remaining habitat, these elephants have nowhere left to go but into roads, farms, and cities. This time on Sidedoor, we look at what happens when wild elephants go urban. 
10/6/202129 minutes, 10 seconds
Episode Artwork

It’s Season Seven!

9/29/20211 minute, 29 seconds
Episode Artwork

Bonus: Patsy Mink

A new season of Sidedoor is just two weeks away! In the meantime, we’re sharing a special guest episode from Wonder Media Network’s podcast, “Encyclopedia Womannica.” In this episode, you’ll hear about the life of Patsy Mink, the first Asian-American woman to serve in Congress and run for U.S. President. She was also the first woman of color elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She made a brief appearance in the Sidedoor episode, “Votes for Hawaiians,” and here you’ll hear more about how she paved the way for Asian-Americans across the nation.   Encyclopedia Womannica is a daily podcast that explores the trials, tragedies and triumphs of groundbreaking women from antiquity through modernity, in just five minutes a day. You can find more episodes HERE. (https://wondermedianetwork.com/encyclopedia-womannica)
9/22/20217 minutes, 9 seconds
Episode Artwork

Bonus: Happy Birthday to Us

The “Men of Progress” painting, from 1862, shows the first Secretary of the Smithsonian surrounded by a group of scientists and inventors credited with “altering the course of contemporary civilization.” But what may be most remarkable about this tableau is who’s not there. To mark the 175th anniversary of the Smithsonian’s founding, the National Portrait Gallery’s Portraits podcast takes us back in time – to trace how the concept of progress has evolved, and who current Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III would put in his “portrait of progress.”
8/18/202128 minutes, 49 seconds
Episode Artwork

Olympic Bonus: Shredding Skateboarding’s Glass Ceiling

This summer – for the first time ever - skateboarding will be an Olympic sport. In honor of its Olympic debut, we’re revisiting one of our favorite episodes: the story of how the best women skateboarders stood toe-to-toe with the most powerful people in the industry to demand equal pay. One of those women is none other than Mimi Knoop, who is coaching the USA women’s skateboarding team. In this bonus episode, we also talk about how skateboarding's entry onto the Olympic stage is a major achievement for the sport, but one not everybody is happy about.  
7/23/202135 minutes, 5 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Battle of Blair Mountain

100 years ago, in the hills of West Virginia, Black, white and European immigrant coal miners banded together to demand better pay and safer working conditions and were met with machine guns. While the story made headlines in 1921, it didn't make it into the history books. In our final episode of the season, we unearth this buried history to help mark the centennial of the largest labor uprising in American history.
7/14/202128 minutes, 53 seconds
Episode Artwork

Ode to Cicadas

Every 17 years, the notorious Brood X cicadas crawl out of the earth by the billions to deafen Washington D.C. After nearly two decades underground, they spend their few short weeks in the sun singing, mating, and dying so the next generation can start anew. The cicadas' distinctive sound and strange life cycle have captivated our human ancestors for millennia, inspiring songs, art, royal attire and even some unique burial rituals. 
6/30/202130 minutes, 21 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Goddess of Broadway

When Diosa Costello took the stage in the 1939 production of “Too Many Girls,” she became the first Puerto Rican performer to tread the boards on Broadway. She was fearless, funny, and brimming with talent. She never considered herself a trailblazer, but her legacy – and the gowns she left at the Smithsonian – tell a different story
6/16/202125 minutes, 26 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Artist Critics Love to Hate

LeRoy Neiman was a colorful man, both figuratively and literally. His handlebar mustache, long cigar, and sketchpad were fixtures at the sidelines of American pop culture: from boxing matches to jazz clubs and political conventions. His paintings, sketches, and prints papered the second half of the 20th century, highlighting American icons in his colorful expressionist style. He was rich, famous, and adored by many Americans… but not the art critics.
6/2/202131 minutes, 30 seconds
Episode Artwork

BONUS: Confronting the Past

One hundred years ago this week, from May 31 and June 1, 1921, a mob targeted and destroyed nearly 40 blocks of a wealthy black neighborhood in North Tulsa, Oklahoma. No one knows how many people died, no one was ever convicted, and no one really talked about it nearly a century later. This is the story of the Tulsa Race Massacre and why it's important that you know it. At least 1,256 homes, along with churches, schools, businesses and even a hospital were deliberately burned or destroyed. Recently found documents are helping historians and researchers better understand the events that took place. And lots of this work is happening by staff at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In fact, part of the Power of Place exhibition at the museum is dedicated to the events of the massacre.
5/26/202123 minutes, 45 seconds
Episode Artwork

Best of the Rest III

Groucho and Freddy. Oryx and ostriches. Cats and dinosaurs. These things go together like… well, they really don’t go together at all. These are fun-sized stories in one goodie bag of an episode. It’s Sidedoor’s third “Best of the Rest!”
5/19/202128 minutes, 33 seconds
Episode Artwork

On The Money

We carry portraits around all the time: pocket-sized history lessons in the form of dollars and cents. The recent decision to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill has us thinking about who’s on our money, and how they got there. This episode of the “Portraits” podcast, from the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, takes a whirlwind tour of money of yore, featuring everything from piles of bunnies to George Washington’s nipples. This episode will have you taking a closer look at the portraits you might be sitting on right now.
5/5/202129 minutes, 34 seconds
Episode Artwork

BONUS: The 1957 Pandemic That Wasn’t

In 1918, a flu pandemic killed more than 50 million people worldwide. Forty years later, it nearly happened again. This week on Sidedoor we go back to a time when the viruses were winning, and we remember one man, Dr. Maurice Hilleman, whose vaccine virtuosity helped turn the tide in the war against infectious diseases. We’ve updated this episode with a bonus interview to reflect on what we’ve learned from our current pandemic. If you want to learn more, please see vaccinesandus.org.
4/28/202127 minutes, 35 seconds
Episode Artwork

Holding out for a Herring

Henrietta the river herring is not a particularly glamorous fish. But she’s got grit. Every summer, she swims out to the Atlantic ocean, and every spring, she makes the 500 mile journey back to Maryland’s Patapsco River, where she was born—a habitat that’s been only partially accessible to herring like her for more than a century. But this year will be different. Join the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center’s herring tagging team as they study what happens to herring like Henrietta when someone gives a dam.
4/21/202130 minutes, 44 seconds
Episode Artwork

Hot Bird Summer

Every spring, for as long as records have been kept, a crowd of hundreds of black crowned night herons descend on the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, mating, eating and generally causing a ruckus. Many of the keepers at the zoo enjoy them, but they can be a tough bird to love. Every fall, peace is restored when the herons decamp and fly off to… where? For more than a century, nobody knew. Until now. 
4/7/202127 minutes, 23 seconds
Episode Artwork

America's Unknown Celebrity Chef

When Lena Richard cooked her first chicken on television, she beat Julia Child to the screen by over a decade. At a time when most African American women cooks worked behind swinging kitchen doors, Richard claimed her place as a culinary authority, broadcasting in the living rooms of New Orleans’s elite white families. She was an entrepreneur, educator, author, and an icon—and her legacy lives on in her recipes.
3/24/202132 minutes, 34 seconds
Episode Artwork

A Very Cold Case

American newspaper publisher and all-around eccentric, Charles Francis Hall, was an unlikely candidate to become an Arctic explorer. Nevertheless, he made three trips to the frozen north, until he died there under suspicious circumstances. Sharpen your powers of deduction and join us on Sidedoor for an epic frozen whodunit, featuring shipwreck, romance, and a social media darling with a dark secret.
3/10/202132 minutes, 41 seconds
Episode Artwork

Life is Hard, Let's Meditate!

As Americans approach a full year of pandemic life, there’s an overwhelming sense of anticipation: when can we get vaccinated? What will life look like in six months? When will life return to normal? Maybe because looking outward feels so daunting, a lot of people are looking inward, through mindfulness and meditation. In this episode of Sidedoor, we learn about mindfulness and meditation through the lens of religion – a Buddhist priest shares the story of her religious journey; and we hear about the secular spirituality that young Americans are increasingly following away from religion.
2/24/202127 minutes, 22 seconds
Episode Artwork

Reservation Math: Navigating Love in Native America

If you’ve heard the phrase, “full blooded,” you’re already familiar with the concept of blood quantum. But Native Americans are the only peoples in the United States whose identity is defined by it. Through the photography of Tailyr Irvine, displayed at the National Museum of the American Indian, we take a look at the colonial origin story of blood quantum: where it came from, why it endures, and how it continues to impact the most personal decisions many Native Americans make about love and family today. Tailyr Irvine’s Reservation Mathematics: Navigating Love in Native America exhibition link: https://americanindian.si.edu/developingstories/irvine.html
2/10/202133 minutes, 20 seconds
Episode Artwork

Sing a Song of Protest

As an up-and-coming young blues singer in the 1950s, Barbara Dane faced a choice: fame and fortune, or her principles. She left the mainstream music industry and became a revolutionary music producer – literally. Spurred by Fidel Castro’s international gathering of protest singers, Dane created a record label that published the sounds of social change around the world, and inspired generations of protest music to come.  For more information, check out: https://folkways.si.edu/paredon
1/27/202130 minutes, 9 seconds
Episode Artwork

How Wonder Woman Got Her Groove Back

Wonder Woman is the best known female superhero of all time, but she’s been through a lot. The brainchild of a psychologist, Wonder Woman hit the comic pages in the 1940s as an antidote to the “bloodcurdling masculinity” of male superheroes. But by the early ‘70s, Wonder Woman was having a midlife crisis. She’d given up her bullet-blocking bracelets and lasso of truth…and opened a clothing boutique. It took a feminist magazine cover to make-over Wonder Woman from comic book character to the icon she remains today. 
1/13/202131 minutes, 50 seconds
Episode Artwork

Edison’s Demon Dolls

In 1890, Americans were delighted when they heard the news that Thomas Edison was using his phonograph technology to give voice to porcelain dolls. But their delight turned to horror when they got their hands on his dolls. In this episode of Sidedoor, we’ll hear a short story that imagines what happens when two little girls receive one of Edison’s talking dolls as a holiday gift, as well as meet one of these dolls with an expert from the National Museum of American history. To see one of these dolls, check it out on our website.
12/16/202025 minutes, 58 seconds
Episode Artwork

Bonus Episode: Tempest in a Teacup

This week, we have an episode from the NHPR podcast “Outside/In” about passenger pigeons. The passenger pigeon is one of the world’s most symbolic extinction stories. It’s a cautionary tale of how in just a few short generations, one of the wonders of the world could be completely eradicated. But when that narrative was questioned in a popular book, 1491 by Charles Mann, what does the response tell us about the conservation movement as a whole?
12/2/202034 minutes, 20 seconds
Episode Artwork

Bonus Episode: That Time the FBI Called

This week, we’re sharing an episode of ‘Detours,’ a new podcast from our friends at GBH and PRX. The podcast shares surprising stories that unfold behind the scenes at the PBS classic TV show “Antiques Roadshow.” In this episode: a rare daguerreotype, Edgar Alan Poe, and…the FBI.     You can find ‘Detours’ wherever you listen to podcasts.
11/18/202024 minutes, 25 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Gorilla Epidemic

When a highly-contagious mystery illness spread through the world’s mountain gorilla population, biologists feared the entire species could be lost. Gorillas don’t wear masks or social distance, so there wasn’t much time for the scientists to identify the illness and find a cure for humanity’s hirsute cousins. What they found in 1988 reminds us in 2020 that humans and wildlife share more than a planet: we share disease.
10/14/202031 minutes, 10 seconds
Episode Artwork

Dress Coded

Dress codes have been around a long time—from the old days of long skirts and bloomers to today’s regulation-length shorts. But while the specifics of what girls can wear to school have changed, the purpose of the codes has not.
9/30/202028 minutes, 52 seconds
Episode Artwork

Appalachia Goes Beijing

When Abigail Washburn and Wu Fei first jammed together, “it was magic.” Fei was shocked to meet an American banjo player so curious about China’s culture; and Abigail Washburn met a classically trained composer whose talents on the guzheng, a 2500 year old 21-string Chinese harp, perfectly complimented her banjo pickin’. Today, they collaborate to make a new brand of folk music: one that combines the tones of Appalachia with the melodies of China.
9/16/202024 minutes, 16 seconds
Episode Artwork

The People's Insect

To look at them, you might think, “Monarch butterflies aren’t going anywhere fast.” But each year, these beauties complete one of the most remarkable migrations in the animal kingdom, soaring more than a mile high to gather on a few mountaintops in Mexico they’ve never seen before, yet somehow they all know where to find. We unlock the secret lives of monarchs, and learn how to support them on their journey.
9/2/202027 minutes, 51 seconds
Episode Artwork

Bonus Ep: Cult of True Womanhood

Bonus Episode | This week, we wanted to share “And Nothing Less,” the new short series from our colleagues at the National Park Service and PRX. It gives a much-needed closer look at the twisty history of the 19th Amendment - and its lesser-known heroes. It’s hosted by two fabulous women: Rosario Dawson and Retta. We’ll play the first episode right here, and you can find the rest of the series by searching (enunciate) “And Nothing Less” wherever you get your podcasts! 
8/26/202036 minutes, 51 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Riverkeeper

Fred Tutman is the voice of the river. Specifically, Maryland’s Patuxent River.  As the Riverkeeper, his job is to protect and preserve all 110 miles of that waterway – a role that takes him both to the courtroom and to the riverbank. But Fred is also the only African American Riverkeeper in the United States, a fact he sees as an indicator of an environmental movement that is incomplete. And it’s the planet that will pay the price.  
8/19/202024 minutes, 55 seconds
Episode Artwork

Votes for Hawaiians

100 years ago this month, the 19th Amendment was ratified into the American Constitution. It’s widely remembered as the moment American women gained the right to vote, but history tells a more complex story. For millions of Indigenous Americans living in far-flung territories, the 19th Amendment afforded some rights – but fell well short of what was promised. So this time: how women’s suffrage came to Hawaiʻi – and what was taken from Hawaiians to get there.
8/5/202031 minutes, 50 seconds
Episode Artwork

Apollo 12's Really Close Call

On November 14, 1969, just four months after Apollo 11’s “giant leap for mankind,” the Apollo 12 Saturn V rocket took off for the moon. Seconds later, a burst of static plunged the three-man crew into complete darkness while speeding toward space in a nearly dead spacecraft. For the 50th anniversary, we tell the often-overlooked story of Apollo 12, one full of danger, discovery, and the power of friendship.
7/22/202028 minutes, 26 seconds
Episode Artwork

Take Who Out to the Ball Game?

Baseball fan or not, you know this song…or at least, you think you do. “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” is one of the top three most recognizable songs in the country, next to the “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Happy Birthday.” But long-forgotten lyrics reveal a feminist message buried amid the peanuts and cracker jack.
7/8/202029 minutes, 4 seconds
Episode Artwork

Shredding Skateboarding’s Glass Ceiling

When Mimi Knoop entered her first skateboarding competition at 24 years old, she never anticipated leaving her mark on the sport forever. But in the early 2000s, she formed an alliance with pioneering skateboarder Cara-Beth Burnside to make a simple request: that the X Games – and the rest of the skateboarding industry – treat female skateboarders the same way they treat their male peers.
6/24/202030 minutes, 23 seconds
Episode Artwork

America’s Unknown Celebrity Chef

When Lena Richard cooked her first chicken on television, she beat Julia Child to the screen by over a decade. At a time when most African American women cooks worked behind swinging kitchen doors, Richard claimed her place as a culinary authority, broadcasting in the living rooms of New Orleans’s elite white families. She was an entrepreneur, educator, author, and an icon – and her legacy lives on in her recipes. Today: her improbable rise to prominence, and her famous gumbo.
6/10/202032 minutes, 27 seconds
Episode Artwork

Young Harriet

In 2017, a photograph of Harriet Tubman surfaced that had been lost to history for more than a century. In a feature of the National Portrait Gallery’s Portraits podcast, we hear the story behind this picture, and how its discovery changes the way we see Tubman – not just an icon of freedom and human dignity, but a courageous young woman.
5/27/202026 minutes, 39 seconds
Episode Artwork

The People's Insect

To look at them, you might think, “Monarch butterflies aren’t going anywhere fast.” But each year, these beauties complete one of the most remarkable migrations in the animal kingdom, soaring more than a mile high to gather on a few mountaintops in Mexico they’ve never seen before, yet somehow they all know where to find. We unlock the secrets lives of monarchs, and learn how to support them on their journey.
5/13/202027 minutes, 21 seconds
Episode Artwork

Best of the Rest II

A perplexing tattoo. Ancient erotica. Killer bees on the loose. This episode is full of short stories we’ve been eager to tell, but couldn’t… until now. It’s Sidedoor’s second-ever “Best of the Rest!”   Learn more about the Freer & Sackler’s collection of shunga, the National Museum of American History’s Great Historic Clock of America on si.edu.
4/29/202032 minutes, 3 seconds
Episode Artwork

Birds, Birds, Birds!

Three billion birds have gone missing since 1970. And conservation biologist Pete Marra considers it his life’s work to make sure more don’t slip away without a fight. In this episode, we go bird-spotting with Pete, and learn what each of us can do to bring birds back.
4/15/202025 minutes, 53 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Milkmaid Spy

Virginia Hall dreamed of being America’s first female ambassador. Instead, she became a spy. Joining the ranks of the U.S.’s first civilian spy network, she operated alone in occupied France, where she built French Resistance networks, delivered critical intelligence, and sold cheese to the enemy. All on one leg.
4/1/202028 minutes, 36 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Last Man To Know It All

Alexander von Humboldt might not be a name you know, but you can bet you know his ideas. Back when the United States were a wee collection of colonies huddled on the eastern seaboard, colonists found the wilderness surrounding them *scary. *It took a zealous Prussian explorer with a thing for barometers to show the colonists what they couldn’t see: a global ecosystem, and their own place in nature. In this episode, we learn how Humboldt - through science and art - inspired a key part of America’s national identity.
3/18/202027 minutes, 49 seconds
Episode Artwork

Outer Space & Underwear

In the Venn diagram of life, it’s hard to imagine what spacecraft and women’s underwear might have in common. And that’s probably what NASA engineers thought back in 1962 when they asked a handful of companies to design a spacesuit that would keep a man alive and mobile on the moon. Nobody counted on the International Latex Corporation, whose commercial brand, Playtex, was known for its bras and girdles. But lingerie, and the expert seamstresses who sewed it, played a critical role in those first well-supported steps on the moon.
3/4/202028 minutes, 36 seconds
Episode Artwork

We're Back!

Get ready for season five! Our new season begins on Wednesday, March 4th. Journey with Lizzie through our many side doors for a behind-the scenes view of the Smithsonian.
2/26/20202 minutes, 25 seconds
Episode Artwork

Cars, Stars, and Rock 'n' Roll

Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III is no administrative assistant. He’s the head of the largest museum, education, and research complex in the world. He’s also the first historian to lead the Smithsonian. In our season finale, we talk with Secretary Bunch about two stories of people overcoming tremendous obstacles to make a change and explore what the past can teach us about today…and tomorrow.  
1/22/202029 minutes, 18 seconds
Episode Artwork

Ponzi's Scheme

Nearly 100 years ago, Charles Ponzi stumbled across a loophole in the international postal system and turned it into one of the most infamous scams of all time. This time on Sidedoor, we follow Ponzi from his early days until his epic downfall, and hear from a postal investigator trained to catch swindlers like Ponzi who continue to use the U.S. mail for nefarious purposes.
1/8/202028 minutes, 57 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Worst Video Game Ever?

Deep within the National Museum of American History’s vaults is a battered Atari case containing what’s known as “the worst video game of all time.” The game is E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and it was so bad that not even the might of Steven Spielberg could save it. It was so loathsome that all remaining copies were buried deep in the desert. And it was so horrible that it’s blamed for the collapse of the American home video game industry in the early 1980s. This time on Sidedoor, we tell the story of just what went SO wrong with E.T. Episode originally aired June 26, 2019.
12/25/201926 minutes, 35 seconds
Episode Artwork

Finding Cleopatra

Edmonia Lewis was the first American woman of color to achieve international fame as a sculptor. Her 3,000-pound masterwork, “The Death of Cleopatra,” commemorated another powerful woman who broke with convention… and then the sculpture disappeared. On this episode of Sidedoor, we find them both.
12/11/201926 minutes, 51 seconds
Episode Artwork

Adam Rippon's Olympic Mesh-capades

When professional athletes face the end of their career, many look ahead with uncertainty and wonder: “What’s next?” But when Adam Rippon stood on the Olympic podium in 2018, making history as the first openly gay American to medal at the winter Olympics, he was sure about his next steps. Rippon was a darling of the American Olympic media, entering all of his interviews ready with a joke and a willingness to speak candidly about his personal journey. In this episode, Rippon brings that same attitude to Sidedoor, talking about his Olympic costume, fame, and the male private part that we didn’t realize was private.
11/27/201921 minutes, 44 seconds
Episode Artwork

Apollo 12's Really Close Call

On November 14, 1969, just four months after Apollo 11’s “giant leap for mankind,” the Apollo 12 Saturn V rocket took off for the moon. Seconds later, a burst of static plunged the three-man crew into complete darkness while speeding toward space in a nearly dead spacecraft. For the 50th anniversary, we tell the often-overlooked story of Apollo 12, one full of danger, discovery, and the power of friendship.
11/13/201927 minutes, 55 seconds
Episode Artwork

Dynamite!

In its heyday, dynamite was a transformative tool; it could blast rock quarries, excavate tunnels, and demolish buildings with power and reliability never before seen. But it also proved to be useful in some surprising ways. In this special episode of Sidedoor, we team up with the history podcast Backstory to explore two less-typical applications of the explosive: the artistic blasting at Mount Rushmore, and how anarchists used dynamite to advance their political agenda in 1886.
10/30/201933 minutes, 40 seconds
Episode Artwork

This Episode Smells

Smell connects us to memories of the people and the places of our lives. But what if it could connect us to a past we’ve never experienced? That's the goal for one team of artists and scientists who used DNA to try to revive the scent of a flower extinct for more than a century.
10/16/201926 minutes, 33 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Dinosaur War

Behind the fossilized teeth, bones, and claws displayed in the National Museum of Natural History’s new Fossil Hall is the story of two men and a nasty feud. During the paleontology boom of the late 1800s, scientists O.C. Marsh and Edward Cope went from good friends who named species after each other, to the bitterest of enemies who eventually ruined each other's lives and careers. Come for the dinos, stay for the grudges. Episode originally aired June 12, 2019.
10/2/201930 minutes, 1 second
Episode Artwork

The Woman in the Frame

Did you know that Martha Washington was essential to America’s Revolutionary War effort? Or that Eleanor Roosevelt was the driving force behind the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights? According to journalist, writer, and commentator Cokie Roberts, many of America's First Ladies were dynamic, politically engaged trailblazers who are often overlooked. We sit down with the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery director, Kim Sajet, to talk about a recent episode of the museum’s new podcast, Portraits. In it, she and Cokie discuss four First Ladies who are remembered for their influence on American history.  Note: As many of you have probably heard, Cokie Roberts passed away in the days since we originally recorded this episode. Our heart goes out to all of Cokie’s family, friends, and people like us who have enjoyed her work for decades.  Portraits podcast website: https://npg.si.edu/podcasts Portraits of First Ladies featured in the episode: Martha Washington portrait Dolley Madison portrait Eleanor Roosevelt portrait Nancy Reagan portrait
9/18/201929 minutes, 1 second
Episode Artwork

Field Trip!

Sidedoor hits the road, sneaking behind the scenes for the ultimate Smithsonian field trip we never took as kids. Lizzie and producer Justin O'Neill journey by bike, train, and even horse (okay, plastic horse) in a romp from museum to museum, encountering a hungry predator, a group of Broadway monsters, the last work of an iconic painter, and lots more. Join us! Links from the episode: Hokusai's Under the Wave off Kanagawa (aka "The Great Wave") at the Freer Gallery   Tarantula Feedings at the National Museum of Natural History David Best's Temple at the Renwick Gallery Mitsitam Café at the National Museum of the American Indian The Smithsonian Carousel
9/4/201928 minutes, 21 seconds
Episode Artwork

Memory, Myth & Miniatures

David Levinthal is a New York-based artist whose photography depicts “the America that never was but always will be.” He uses toys to recreate iconic moments in American history and pop culture, encouraging his audience to question America’s collective memory. Sidedoor visits Levinthal in his studio, and an exhibition of his work at the Smithsonian American Art Museum titled “American Myth & Memory: David Levinthal Photographs” to explore the distinction between fact and fable. Click here to see the images we discuss in the episode.
8/21/201923 minutes, 17 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Wild Orchid Mystery

You probably know orchids as the big, colorful flowers found in grocery stores and given as housewarming gifts. But those tropical beauties represent only a fraction of the estimated 25,000 orchid species worldwide. While their showy relatives fly off the shelves, North America’s more understated native orchids are disappearing in the wild. Scientists at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center are working to protect these orchids and their habitats, but first they need to solve a surprisingly difficult problem: how to grow one.
8/7/201922 minutes, 55 seconds
Episode Artwork

Things You'd Never Tell Your Parents

Regie Cabico has been called the "Lady Gaga of Spoken Word poetry"—he's outspoken, provocative and iconoclastic. The son of Filipino immigrants living in rural Maryland, Regie says he’ll never be “entirely American or entirely Filipino,” and on stage he uses his poetry to explore identity, social issues, and (of course) love. Regie joins Sidedoor *in studio* for an exclusive live performance, and even offers some poetic cooking tips from the annals of American history.
7/24/201920 minutes, 3 seconds
Episode Artwork

Space Jocks & Moon Rocks

When NASA’s Apollo 11 mission sent the first astronauts to the moon 50 years ago, there were many things we didn’t know. Like whether the moon’s surface would turn out to be a field of quicksand, if space germs would infect the astronauts, or what exactly the moon was made of. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, we join forces with the National Air and Space Museum’s podcast, AirSpace, to explore the mysteries of lunar science: what we didn't know then, and what we still don't know today. Listen to AirSpace, stories that defy gravity: airandspace.si.edu/learn/airspace-podcast
7/10/201926 minutes, 23 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Worst Video Game Ever?

Deep within the National Museum of American History’s vaults is a battered Atari case containing what’s known as “the worst video game of all time.” The game is E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and it was so bad that not even the might of Steven Spielberg could save it. It was so loathsome that all remaining copies were buried deep in the desert. And it was so horrible that it’s blamed for the collapse of the American home video game industry in the early 1980s. This time on Sidedoor, we tell the story of just what went SO wrong with E.T.
6/26/201925 minutes, 48 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Dinosaur War

Behind the fossilized teeth, bones, and claws displayed in the National Museum of Natural History’s new Fossil Hall is the story of two men and a nasty feud. During the paleontology boom of the late 1800s, scientists O.C. Marsh and Edward Cope went from good friends who named species after each other, to the bitterest of enemies who eventually ruined each other's lives and careers. Come for the dinos, stay for the grudges.
6/12/201929 minutes, 32 seconds
Episode Artwork

Update: Meet the New Voice of Season Four!

With our fourth season’s launch quickly approaching, take a moment to meet the new voice of Sidedoor! Season Four of the Smithsonian's Sidedoor podcast launches on June 12, 2019. Subscribe now!
6/5/20192 minutes, 12 seconds
Episode Artwork

Aloha, Y’all

Close your eyes and think of Hawaii. That sound you undoubtedly hear? Well, that’s the ocean. But that other sound floating on the breeze—that’s the steel guitar, an indigenous Hawaiian invention that has influenced country, blues, and rock music since the turn of the 20th century. This time on Sidedoor, we follow a familiar sound with an unexpected origin and learn how the steel guitar helped Hawaiians preserve their culture and change American popular music.
4/24/201929 minutes, 22 seconds
Episode Artwork

Good as Gold

Glittering treasures, gleaming coins, and eye-catching jewelry…gold can be all of these things, but in some parts of the world it's also an enduring link to the past. Gus Casely-Hayford, director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, takes us on a journey through West Africa to learn how gold was the foundation for massive empires—and his own family—and how it continues shining brightly in West African culture today.
4/10/201921 minutes, 8 seconds
Episode Artwork

Abraham Lincoln: Prankster-in-Chief

We all know Abraham Lincoln, right? Well, we know one side of him—the grave-faced leader of a troubled country—but behind the face on the penny lies an unlikely jokester. This week, Sidedoor reveals the rascally side of our 16th president, and does it with a brand-new sound.
4/1/201932 minutes, 34 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Feather Detective

In 1960, investigators found dark bits of feather stuck inside a crashed airplane's engines. They needed someone to figure out what bird they belonged to—and how that bird took down a 110,000-pound plane. Enter Roxie Laybourne, a Smithsonian bird expert who not only answered that question, but also invented the science of using feathers to solve bird-related mysteries. This time on Sidedoor, we revisit some of Roxie's greatest cases and learn how she and her team helped keep the friendly skies friendly for both birds and people.
3/27/201927 minutes, 10 seconds
Episode Artwork

Singing the Gender-Bending Blues

Gladys Bentley loved women, wore men's clothing, and sang bawdy songs that would make sailors blush...and did it openly in the 1920s and 1930s. This was long before the gay rights or the civil rights movements, yet Bentley became a darling of the Harlem Renaissance alongside icons like Langston Hughes and Josephine Baker. While her provocative performances kept her from becoming as well-known as her peers, they are exactly why she is being rediscovered—and admired—today. In celebration of Women's History Month, we follow the life of a trailblazer who was unapologetically herself at a time when she would’ve been acutely aware of the risks.
3/13/201926 minutes, 58 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Silence of the Frogs

In the mid-1990s, investigators identified a mysterious and seemingly unstoppable killer. Its name? Chytrid. Its prey? Frogs. Since then, the disease has ravaged frog populations worldwide, and despite decades of research there’s still no cure. So, like modern-day Noahs, a group of Smithsonian researchers have resorted to a time-honored plan: building an ark…for amphibians. This time on Sidedoor, we travel to the Panamanian jungle to see how it's helping some endangered frogs avoid extinction.
2/27/201926 minutes, 6 seconds
Episode Artwork

Cheech Marin Gets Artsy

In the 1970s and ’80s, Cheech Marin was famous for being half of the stoner comedy duo "Cheech and Chong." Today, he’s a passionate advocate for Chicano art and is raising awareness around a uniquely Mexican American aesthetic: rasquachismo. In this episode of Sidedoor, Cheech Marin is our guide to the wildly creative and ingenious world of rasquachismo—the Chicano art of working with what you've got.
2/13/201926 minutes, 24 seconds
Episode Artwork

50 Shades of Gray Whales

Happy New Year! We’re busy working on a new batch of Sidedoor episodes and while you wait, we wanted to re-share a story we like from the fall, just in case you missed it the first time around. From 6,000-year-old cave paintings to silver screen stars in movies like Free Willy, whales have long captured the human imagination. And it makes sense—they're among the largest and most intelligent creatures to ever live on our planet. This time on Sidedoor, we’ll explore our surprising relationship with whales through the lens of one species: the gray whale. Once aggressively hunted and thought to be nearly extinct, they've rebounded to become one of the North Pacific’s most abundant whale species. So, what changed?
1/30/201925 minutes, 27 seconds
Episode Artwork

Amelia Earhart's Revolutionary Flight Club

You know Amelia Earhart, but did you know she was just one of a daring group of women aviators who defied both expectations and gravity in the 1920s? They called themselves the Ninety-Nines, and they’re still flying today as an organization dedicated to the advancement of women pilots. This time on Sidedoor, we time-travel to the Roaring ‘20s to experience America's first official all-female air race, and then meet a modern-day Ninety-Nine who is ensuring that the legacy of Earhart and her fellow pilots continues to thrive.
12/26/201826 minutes, 38 seconds
Episode Artwork

Inventor, Photographer...Murderer

Meet Eadweard Muybridge, a pioneering and eccentric photographer from the 1800s whose work changed how people understood movement, and paved the way for the invention of motion pictures. But this inventor, artist, and showman also made a name for himself for something much less savory: murder. This time on Sidedoor, come for the ingenuity and stay for the scandal as we find out how a near-death experience, a handsome horse, and a rumored $25,000 bet helped Eadweard Muybridge change the course of photographic history.
12/12/201827 minutes, 31 seconds
Episode Artwork

This Color Is Who I Am

Artist Frank Holliday's social circle in the 1980s was a who's who of New York City cool: Andy Warhol, Cyndi Lauper, RuPaul, Keith Haring, and even Madonna. But Frank's odyssey through the art world also placed him at the center of an epidemic that would shake the entire country. In honor of World AIDS Day, Sidedoor takes a look at America's early HIV/AIDS Crisis through the eyes of an artist whose life and work were changed by it forever.  This episode features recordings from the "Visual Arts and the AIDS Epidemic" Oral History Project produced by the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art.
11/28/201827 minutes, 30 seconds
Episode Artwork

That Brunch in the Forest

In 1621, a group of Pilgrims and Native Americans came together for a meal that many Americans call "The First Thanksgiving." But get this—it wasn't the first, and the meal itself wasn't so special either. The event was actually all but forgotten for hundreds of years…until it was dusted off to bolster the significance of a national holiday. This time on Sidedoor, we talk to Paul Chaat Smith, a curator at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, to explore how much of what you think you know about Native Americans may be more fiction than fact.
11/14/201825 minutes, 19 seconds
Episode Artwork

Seriously Seeking Sasquatch

Inside the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural history is the skeleton of Grover Krantz—an accomplished anthropologist, tenured professor…and diehard Bigfoot believer? As the first serious scientist to study the legendary creature, Krantz risked his career and reputation on a subject that many consider a joke. And while the museum remembers him as a man who loved science so much that he donated his body to it, another community remembers Krantz as a pioneer in the study of Sasquatch.
10/31/201826 minutes, 9 seconds
Episode Artwork

Slavery, Freedom & Grandma’s House

What if you found out that your grandmother’s house was going on display at a museum? The. Whole. House. That’s what happened to the Meggett sisters, who grew up visiting, eating, and playing at their grandma’s tiny cabin in South Carolina, unaware that it was originally built to house enslaved people. This time on Sidedoor, we explore the house's unique journey from slave cabin to family home to its latest incarnation as a centerpiece at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
10/17/201821 minutes, 48 seconds
Episode Artwork

50 Shades of Gray Whales

From 6,000-year-old cave paintings to silver screen stars in movies like Free Willy, whales have long captured the human imagination. And it makes sense—they're among the largest and most intelligent creatures to ever live on our planet. This time on Sidedoor, we’ll explore our surprising relationship with whales through the lens of one species: the gray whale. Once aggressively hunted and thought to be nearly extinct, they've rebounded to become one of the North Pacific’s most abundant whale species. So, what changed?
10/3/201824 minutes, 54 seconds
Episode Artwork

Update: Passing the Mic!

Our dear host Tony Cohn is leaving *Sidedoor *to travel the world, so we want to take a minute to introduce you to the new voice of the show, Haleema Shah.
10/1/20182 minutes, 12 seconds
Episode Artwork

A Right to the City

In Washington, D.C., the neighborhood of Anacostia was once dismissed as the wrong side of the river. Now, it is turning into a housing hotspot as the city sees an influx of newer, wealthier residents. It’s called gentrification, and the process has become a flashpoint from Houston to Harlem and beyond. We’ll explore this longtime fight for housing through an innovative community museum that empowers local residents—kids and adults—to tell the stories of these changing neighborhoods.
9/19/201824 minutes, 45 seconds
Episode Artwork

The World's Deadliest Animal

The world’s deadliest animal isn’t the tiger, the snake, or even the alligator—it’s the mosquito. These tiny insects spread diseases that kill over 700,000 people each year. But what can we do to stop them? In search of solutions, host Tony Cohn travels around Panama with some well-equipped Smithsonian experts on the trail of this bloodthirsty, buzzing beast.
9/5/201825 minutes, 11 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Mystery Bones of Witch Hill

It begins a bit like a *Scooby Doo *episode: archaeologists digging at a place called “Witch Hill” discover mysterious human remains in an ancient trash heap. Who was this person? How’d they get there? Astonishingly, it would take 40 years to find out, and the story is way more surprising — and groundbreaking — than anyone could’ve ever imagined. So, grab your Scooby Snacks and join Sidedoor as we journey to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama to see these unusual bones firsthand and meet the “meddling kids” trying to solve a mystery 700 years in the making.
8/22/201822 minutes, 13 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Curse of the Hope Diamond

The Hope Diamond is one of the most iconic items in the Smithsonian's collections, but this glittering gem is rumored to have a dark side. French monarchs, an heiress, and at least one unlucky postman have met misfortune after possessing it—though does that really constitute a curse? This time on Sidedoor, we track the lore of this notorious gem through the centuries, from southern India, through the French Revolution, and across the Atlantic Ocean to its current home at the National Museum of Natural History, to find out for ourselves.
8/8/201827 minutes, 18 seconds
Episode Artwork

Season Three Update!

Tony sneaks away from the mosquitoes and frogs of Panama to make a special announcement: Sidedoor season three launches on Wednesday, August 8! Get ready for even more amazing stories from every corner of the Smithsonian. Pro tip: subscribe today to receive new episodes before anyone else, including our upcoming season premiere, "The Curse of the Hope Diamond."  
8/2/20181 minute, 18 seconds
Episode Artwork

Red, White and Brew

How much do you know about the history of American home brewing? In this episode of Sidedoor you'll meet the Smithsonian's first brewing historian, Theresa McCulla, and learn about the role of women, enslaved people, and immigrants in the country's complex—and often surprising—relationship with beer. You'll also meet a new wave of brewers who are working to craft some flavorful history of their own. (Originally broadcast date: July 4th, 2017)
7/4/201825 minutes, 31 seconds
Episode Artwork

Discovering the World’s Oldest Winery

Sidedoor host Tony Cohn gets the opportunity of a lifetime: fly to Armenia and crawl into a deep, dark cave in search of long-lost wine. But we’re not talking just any ol’ cabernet or sauvignon blanc: these 6,000-year-old wine remnants are evidence of the world's oldest winery. In this episode we ask, what can this ancient winery tell us about the earliest days of civilization, and could a thirst for wine be the reason why some ancient humans left behind their nomadic ways and settled down? (Original broadcast date: March 2018)  
6/27/201826 minutes, 6 seconds
Episode Artwork

Best of the Rest

Big Bird in space. Saving a multi-million-dollar painting. Smokey the *real* Bear. These are some of the stories we've been itching toshare, but didn’t have room for… until now. To close out Season 2, we’re serving up a few of our favorite Smithsonian “shorties,”plus we’ll check in with our most talked about characters from this past year. We’ll be back forSeason 3in August 2018! 
6/6/201830 minutes, 38 seconds
Episode Artwork

Don't Call Me Extinct

Extinct species don’t usually get a do-over…but don’t tell that to the scimitar-horned oryx. Erased from the wild for three decades, these desert antelope are back in the Central African country of Chad with a thriving herd of over a hundred individuals. But how did this happen? We visit the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute and a remote animal reserve in the United Arab Emirates to reveal the twists and turns of this amazing comeback story.
5/23/201825 minutes, 55 seconds
Episode Artwork

Cherokee Story Slam

Talking animals? A bag of fire ants? Secret dancing superpowers? In this episode, Robert Lewis, an acclaimed Cherokee storyteller, spins stories about a legendary troublemaker: Jistu the Rabbit. Along the way, we visit the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, exploring the power stories hold to keep people connected to their culture across time and geographic distance. Experience the transformative power of a good tale.
5/9/201823 minutes, 59 seconds
Episode Artwork

Painting Michelle Obama

The day that Amy Sherald heard that she had been chosen to paint the official portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama, she called her mom to tell her the news, and then she told her dog. But soon after, the nerves set in. How was she going to create a portrait of one of the most iconic women in the world? In this episode of Sidedoor, we journey to Amy's studio to hear exactly how she captured the spirit of Michelle Obama in paint on canvas, and what she thinks of the reactions to her work.
4/25/201824 minutes, 59 seconds
Episode Artwork

Murder Is Her Hobby

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been hard at work on a batch of stories you’re going to love. So this week, we're sharing one of our favorite eps from the fall. Heiress, divorcée … mother of forensic science? Frances Glessner Lee was not your average 19th century woman. Using the skills that high-society ladies were expected to have -- like sewing, crafting, and knitting -- Frances revolutionized the male-dominated world of crime scene investigation. Her most celebrated contribution: 19 intricate dioramas depicting violent murder scenes. In this episode of Sidedoor, we'll explore Frances's morbid obsession, and discover why the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery chose to put them on display.
4/11/201825 minutes, 37 seconds
Episode Artwork

A Crane with a Crush

Chris Crowe, an animal keeper for the Smithsonian, has an unlikely bond with Walnut, a female white-naped crane. Despite their obvious differences, she chose him as her mate. For Crowe, their relationship has high stakes: it impacts the future of an entire species. Venture with Sidedoor to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute to meet this unconventional couple, and find out how their connection could be key to white-naped crane survival.
3/28/201821 minutes, 59 seconds
Episode Artwork

Discovering the World’s Oldest Winery

Sidedoor host Tony Cohn gets the opportunity of a lifetime: fly to Armenia and crawl into a deep, dark cave in search of lost wine. But we’re not talking just any ol’ cabernet or sauvignon blanc, these 6000-year-old remains are evidence of the world's oldest winery. In this episode, we ask: What can this ancient winery tell us about the earliest days of civilization, and could a thirst for wine be the reason why some ancient humans decided to settle down and stop being nomadic?
3/14/201825 minutes, 28 seconds
Episode Artwork

America's First Food Spy

In the 1800s, the American diet was mostly made up of meats, potatoes, cheese, and perhaps the occasional green bean. Fruits and other veggies? Not so much. But that all changed thanks to a group of 19th century food spies – globe-trotting scientists and explorers who sought exotic crops to enhance America’s diet and help grow the economy. A pioneer among them was David Fairchild, who nabbed avocados from Chile, kale from Croatia, mangoes from India, and much more. In this episode, we learn about Fairchild's remarkable adventures and take a surprise trip to the Smithsonian archives to uncover a rare piece of food spy history.
2/28/201826 minutes, 16 seconds
Episode Artwork

Killer Viruses and One Man's Mission to Stop Them

In 1918, a flu pandemic killed more than 50 million people worldwide. Forty years later, it nearly happened again. This week on Sidedoor, we go back to a time when the viruses were winning, and we remember one man, Dr. Maurice Hilleman, whose vaccine virtuosity helped turn the tide in the war against infectious diseases. Special thanks to our sponsor, Empty Frames. Search and subscribe to Empty Frames today on Apple Podcasts or your favorite listening destination.
2/14/201821 minutes, 32 seconds
Episode Artwork

Enslaved and Muslim in Early America

Today, the US population is about 1% Muslim, but in the late 1700s that number was likely closer to 5%. Who were these early Muslim-Americans, where did they go, and why didn’t we all learn about them in school? In this episode, we search for American history's missing Muslims, and explore their experience though the words of Omar ibn Said, an enslaved Muslim man in North Carolina whose one-of-a-kind autobiography still resonates today.
1/31/201829 minutes, 47 seconds
Episode Artwork

Sidedoor Presents: AirSpace

Join Sidedoor in welcoming AirSpace, a new gravity-defying podcast from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. Hosts Emily Martin and Matt Schindell join Tony to share a few upcoming stories, including what’s on the menu in space, how Earth’s oceans teach us about exploring the cosmos, and what it takes to be an astronaut. We’ll also give you a peek into AirSpace’s maiden voyage, where the team looks at what happens when a bunch of scientists attempt to live like Martians. If you’ve ever thought changing time zones was hard, try living on “Mars Time.”  A special thank you to our sponsor, Hanover Press.
1/17/201817 minutes, 58 seconds
Episode Artwork

If These Bones Could Talk

While we’re hard at work on some exciting new things, we wanted to start the new year off with one of our favorites from 2017: If These Bones Could Talk. Explorer, scholar and 19th Century Smithsonian darling Robert Kennicott seemed destined to lead a full and adventurous life. Then, at the age of 30, on an expedition to Russian Alaska in 1866, Kennicott was mysteriously discovered dead by a riverside. Rumors of all colors circulated about the cause of his death, although, it wasn’t until 135 years later, in 2001, that two Smithsonian forensic scientists cracked the case.
1/3/201826 minutes, 55 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Many Lives of Owney the Dog

120 years ago, Owney was a global celebrity. He was also a dog. And no, he didn’t juggle plates or dance on two legs, Owney was famous for simply riding trains with the US mail. So, climb aboard the Sidedoor Express and join us as we revisit different chapters of Owney’s story – his rise to fame, his disastrous fall, and his remarkable return to the spotlight at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum. It’ll be a doggone good time.
12/20/201724 minutes, 27 seconds
Episode Artwork

This One's for Dilla

Even if you’ve never heard his name, you’ve probably heard his sound. J Dilla was a prolific hip-hop artist who collaborated with many hip-hop greats – from Questlove to Erykah Badu to Eminem. In this episode, we’re telling the story of J Dilla’s life and legacy through those that knew him best – his mother (aka Ma Dukes), James Poyser, and Frank Nitt – and some surprising objects on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
12/6/201727 minutes, 59 seconds
Episode Artwork

LIVE! Cookin' Up Stories

Does your ham sandwich have something to say? Quite possibly. Food can be a powerful storytelling tool. Many chefs, like authors, carefully craft meals or menus to transform a dining experience into a cultural, historical, or educational adventure. This week on Sidedoor, chef Jerome Grant from the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, and Maricel Presilla, who was the first female Latin American guest chef at the White House, discuss the story-rich menus that put them in the spotlight. Recorded live at the National Museum of American History’s Food History Weekend.
11/22/201727 minutes, 16 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Hungry Hungry Hippo Baby

A hippo, an orangutan, and a scientist walk into a milk bar... or so our story goes. In January 2017, a baby hippo was born at the Cincinnati Zoo six weeks premature and some 30 pounds underweight. Her name was Fiona, and getting her to put on pounds was a life or death matter. Unfortunately, nursing wasn't an option and the only hippo formula recipe on file was old and out of date. To devise a new one, team Fiona turned to the scientists at the world's largest exotic milk repository at the Smithsonian's National Zoo. But could they do it in time…and would Fiona drink it?
11/8/201721 minutes, 1 second
Episode Artwork

Murder Is Her Hobby

Heiress, divorcée … mother of forensic science? Frances Glessner Lee was not your average 19th century woman. Using the skills that high-society ladies were expected to have -- like sewing, crafting, and knitting -- Frances revolutionized the male-dominated world of crime scene investigation. Her most celebrated contribution: 19 intricate dioramas depicting violent murder scenes. In this episode of Sidedoor, we'll explore Frances's morbid obsession, and discover why the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery has chosen to put them on display.
10/25/201725 minutes, 4 seconds
Episode Artwork

Confronting the Past

In 1921, a riot destroyed almost 40 blocks of a wealthy black neighborhood in North Tulsa, Oklahoma. No one knows exactly how many people died, no one was ever convicted, and no one really talked about it until nearly a century later. In this episode, Sidedoor explores the story of the Tulsa Race Massacre and why it's important that you know it. Episode originally released Nov. 9, 2016.
10/11/201724 minutes, 52 seconds
Episode Artwork

Grandma Turned Me into a Ghost

Haunted by her not-so-nice grandmother, a young woman finds herself turning into a ghost. Writer Anelise Chen reads her essay “Who Haunts,” and discusses the ways in which our families shape our personal and cultural identities, for better or worse. Chen was recently featured at the Smithsonian's first-ever Asian American Literature Festival in Washington, D.C. Original score by Nico Porcaro.
9/27/201721 minutes, 12 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Man Who Defied Gravity

In the late 1800s, Paul Cinquevalli was one of the most famous and thrilling entertainers in the world. Tales of his juggling and balancing exploits spanned continents. But by the mid 20th century, his name was all but forgotten. In this episode, Sidedoor explores Cinquevalli’s epic rise and fall, and brings you inside the Smithsonian Folklife Festival’s circus tents for a one-of-a-kind Cinquevalli-inspired juggling revival.
9/13/201724 minutes, 35 seconds
Episode Artwork

Artist in Dissidence

An artist steps in front of a camera and drops a priceless 2000-year-old vase onto the floor, smashing it into a million pieces. This is Ai Weiwei, and the resulting photographs are one of his most well-known works of art. Many were inspired; others were enraged. And around the world it got people talking. In this episode, we explore Ai Weiwei’s controversial career, and how he uses art to rally against political and social injustice.
8/30/201717 minutes, 35 seconds
Episode Artwork

LIVE! Unintended Consequences

Catty gossip that led to a presidential scandal, the earliest mavericks of American cinema, and the risque Roman origins of a favorite Disney character. This week, we bring you tales of small things that snowballed and had outsized impacts on history, art and culture. Presented live at the 2017 NYC Podfest.
8/16/201729 minutes, 18 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Mean, Green, Water-Cleaning Machine

In the early 1980s, a scientist invented a machine that could naturally filter out pollution from rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water. So, why isn't it everywhere today? In this episode, we explore the secret behind this powerful green technology (spoiler alert: it's algae!) and track its journey from a coral reef in the Caribbean to the basement of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and finally a port in Baltimore, where it is now being used to clean up one of the region's most polluted waterways.
8/2/201723 minutes, 11 seconds
Episode Artwork

The Art of War

In this episode, we look at artists whose work has helped reveal the human side of war. You’ll hear about a famous artist who got his start sketching Civil War soldiers and landscapes, and how he was never the same again. Also featured are two contemporary artists: a painter whose work depicts war's psychological impact on his best friend, and a female combat photographer who repeatedly risked her own life to document her fellow soldiers’ experiences on the battlefield.
7/19/201723 minutes, 11 seconds
Episode Artwork

Bonus: Ale to the Chief

In this mini-episode, Sidedoor host Tony Cohn interviews Sam Kass, former Obama White House chef and one of the people responsible for the first beer ever known to be brewed at the White House.
7/12/201712 minutes, 48 seconds
Episode Artwork

Red, White and Brew

How much do you know about the history of American home-brewing? In this episode of Sidedoor you'll meet the Smithsonian's first brewing historian, Theresa McCulla, and learn about the role of women, enslaved people, and immigrants in the country's complex — and often surprising — relationship with beer. You'll also meet a new wave of brewers who are working to craft some flavorful history of their own.
7/5/201725 minutes, 9 seconds
Episode Artwork

If These Bones Could Talk

Explorer, scholar and 19th Century Smithsonian darling Robert Kennicott seemed destined to lead a full and adventurous life. Then, at the age of 30, on an expedition to Russian Alaska in 1866, Kennicott was mysteriously discovered dead by a riverside. Rumors of all colors circulated about the cause of his death, although, it wasn’t until 135 years later, in 2001, that two Smithsonian forensic scientists cracked the case.
6/21/201726 minutes, 28 seconds
Episode Artwork

Guess Who's Back

Sidedoor is back-- tell a friend! New season begins on Wednesday, June 21st.
6/7/20171 minute, 44 seconds
Episode Artwork

Leave a Message at the Beep

Tony shares a special thanks and an exciting update for our upcoming season. Share your thoughts by emailing [email protected] or leave a message at 202-633-4120.
2/1/20172 minutes, 12 seconds
Episode Artwork

Shake It Up

Transforming things we take for granted: An astronomer who has turned the night sky into a symphony; an architecture firm that has radically rethought police stations; and an audiophile who built a successful record company on underappreciated sounds.
1/18/201723 minutes, 54 seconds
Episode Artwork

You Do You

Identity in a complex world: A look at the many roles each person plays in daily life; a group of lesbian feminists create an entirely new culture, religion and society in the 1970s; and Iraqi archaeologists work to preserve their cultural heritage after years of war.
1/4/201719 minutes, 31 seconds
Episode Artwork

Gaming the System

Bending the rules: People sending their children through the U.S. Postal Service; a Sikh man in the early 1900s tries to use the Supreme Court's racist rulings to his benefit; and the little-known story behind the iconic folk song "Rock Island Line."
12/21/201621 minutes, 41 seconds
Episode Artwork

Butting Heads

Squabbles big and small: A dining room turns two besties into lifelong enemies; a researcher embraces the panda craze; and why some dinosaur skulls were built to take a beating.
12/7/201618 minutes, 31 seconds
Episode Artwork

Mid Season Update

A quick update from Tony about the show.
11/30/201637 seconds
Episode Artwork

Masters of Disguise

Tales of deception and trickery: A sneaky orchid seeks sexually frustrated pollinator; a battle fought by decoys; and a gender-bending zombie invasion of the Chesapeake Bay.
11/23/201618 minutes, 1 second
Episode Artwork

Confronting the Past

A 1921 riot destroyed almost 40 blocks of a wealthy black neighborhood in North Tulsa, Oklahoma. No one knows how many people died, no one was ever convicted and no one really talked about it until a decade ago. This is the story of the Tulsa Race Massacre and why it's important that you know it.
11/9/201622 minutes, 25 seconds
Episode Artwork

Tech Yourself

Technology's grip on us: The 4-1-1 on what's behind your selfie; an artist's computer simulation shows humans aren't as unique as we think; and how the invention of standardized time made America tick.
10/26/201620 minutes, 56 seconds
Episode Artwork

Special Delivery

The payoff is all in the delivery: Sending mail via cruise missile; preparing a strong-willed orangutan for primate parenthood; and failing to land a joke from the "gag file" of Phyllis Diller.
10/26/201622 minutes, 9 seconds
Episode Artwork

Season 1 Tease

Sidedoor, a new podcast from the Smithsonian, is launching October 26th, 2016. Start subscribing now on iTunes!
10/25/201645 seconds