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Sidedoor

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.
97 Episodes
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Appalachia Goes Beijing

Appalachia Goes Beijing

2020-09-1625:481

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.
The People's Insect

The People's Insect

2020-09-0229:431

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.
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! 
The Riverkeeper

The Riverkeeper

2020-08-1926:402

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.  
Votes for Hawaiians

Votes for Hawaiians

2020-08-0532:594

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Young Harriet

Young Harriet

2020-05-2727:491

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.
The People's Insect

The People's Insect

2020-05-1328:311

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.
Best of the Rest II

Best of the Rest II

2020-04-2933:163

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.
Birds, Birds, Birds!

Birds, Birds, Birds!

2020-04-1527:002

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.
The Milkmaid Spy

The Milkmaid Spy

2020-04-0129:418

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.
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.
Outer Space & Underwear

Outer Space & Underwear

2020-03-0429:476

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.
We're Back!

We're Back!

2020-02-2602:25

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.
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.  
Ponzi's Scheme

Ponzi's Scheme

2020-01-0831:025

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.
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.
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Comments (7)

Florian Stummer

This is really one of my favorite podcasts. Tried it after I read a review in New Scientist. Keep up the great work. It's such fun to do the gardening alongside. Cheers!

Jun 3rd
Reply

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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