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 Tony Cohn sneaks listeners through Smit...Show More

28:21 | Sep 4th

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, encount...Show More

25:48 | Jun 26th

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...Show More
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24:59 | Apr 25th, 2018

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 ...Show More

21:32 | Feb 14th, 2018

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...Show More

29:47 | Jan 31st, 2018

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 America...Show More

26:55 | Jan 3rd, 2018

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 lea...Show More

25:04 | Oct 25th, 2017

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-do...Show More

24:52 | Oct 11th, 2017

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...Show More

12:48 | Jul 12th, 2017

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.

22:09 | Oct 26th, 2016

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.

21:44 | Nov 27th

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 Olym...Show More

27:55 | Nov 13th

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 ...Show More

33:40 | Oct 30th

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 o...Show More

26:33 | Oct 16th

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 ext...Show More

30:01 | Oct 2nd

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 f...Show More

29:01 | Sep 18th

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 commentato...Show More

23:17 | Aug 21st

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 collecti...Show More

22:55 | Aug 7th

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 of...Show More

20:03 | Jul 24th

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...Show More

26:23 | Jul 10th

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 ex...Show More

29:32 | Jun 12th

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 f...Show More

02:12 | Jun 5th

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!

29:22 | Apr 24th

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 sin...Show More

21:08 | Apr 10th

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, t...Show More

32:34 | Apr 1st

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 i...Show More

27:10 | Mar 27th

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 exp...Show More

26:58 | Mar 13th

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 Har...Show More

26:06 | Feb 27th

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, l...Show More

26:24 | Feb 13th

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 ...Show More

25:27 | Jan 30th

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 star...Show More