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Author: Smithsonian Institution

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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.
76 Episodes
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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 tospeak 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.
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.
Dynamite!

Dynamite!

2019-10-3000:35:382

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 Backstoryto 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.
This Episode Smells

This Episode Smells

2019-10-1600:28:441

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.
The Dinosaur War

The Dinosaur War

2019-10-0200:31:301

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.
The Woman in the Frame

The Woman in the Frame

2019-09-1800:30:201

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/podcastsPortraits of First Ladies featured in the episode:Martha Washington portraitDolley Madison portraitEleanor Roosevelt portraitNancy Reagan portrait
Field Trip!

Field Trip!

2019-09-0400:29:31

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 HistoryDavid Best's Temple at the Renwick GalleryMitsitam Café at the National Museum of the American IndianThe Smithsonian Carousel
Memory, Myth & Miniatures

Memory, Myth & Miniatures

2019-08-2100:23:524

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.
The Wild Orchid Mystery

The Wild Orchid Mystery

2019-08-0700:24:112

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.
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.
Space Jocks & Moon Rocks

Space Jocks & Moon Rocks

2019-07-1000:28:322

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
The Worst Video Game Ever?

The Worst Video Game Ever?

2019-06-2600:28:153

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.
The Dinosaur War

The Dinosaur War

2019-06-1200:32:034

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.
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!
Aloha, Y’all

Aloha, Y’all

2019-04-2400:31:17

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.
Good as Gold

Good as Gold

2019-04-1000:23:00

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.
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.
The Feather Detective

The Feather Detective

2019-03-2700:29:031

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.
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.
The Silence of the Frogs

The Silence of the Frogs

2019-02-2700:27:314

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.
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Comments (6)

Eva Miller

Love Dinosaur Wars. Great show

Jun 18th
Reply

Alex Kwong

why are there so many breaks in this show

Sep 4th
Reply

Nichole Craft

love

Aug 25th
Reply

iTunes User

Interesting biography of the intrepid explorer, naturalist, and collector. Can only imagine what more he might have accomplished had he lived more than his 30 years. Posthumous thanks.

Aug 31st
Reply

iTunes User

Yay!!! Season 2 dropped today!!! Good to hear Tony's voice again, and I really like the new theme song :) First episode is like real life "Bones" : 150yr old cold case solved by Smithsonian forensic anthropologist!

Aug 31st
Reply

iTunes User

This is such a cool concept from the Smithsonian. As a Washingtonian and someone who has always loved going to the museums on the mall, I can't wait to hear more about what is behind the scenes! Really think I am going to love the moderators. Tony seems like a funny guy.

Aug 31st
Reply
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