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Sidedoor

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Sidedoor

Smithsonian Institution

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More than 154 million treasures fill the Smithsonian’s vaults. But where the public’s view ends, Sidedoor begins. With the help of biologists, artists, historians, archaeologists, zookeepers and astrophysicists, host Lizzie Peabody sneaks listeners through the Smithsonian’s side door, telling stories that can’t be heard anywhere else. Check out si.edu/sidedoor and follow @SidedoorPod for more info.
 
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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 J…
 
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 th…
 
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…
 
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 …
 
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 definit…
 
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 ho…
 
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 Beat…
 
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 his…
 
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 …
 
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 a…
 
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 s…
 
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 ag…
 
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 i…
 
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 P…
 
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 coach…
 
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 m…
 
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 c…
 
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 impor…
 
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 w…
 
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 wil…
 
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, educ…
 
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, …
 
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…
 
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 cha…
 
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 bracelet…
 
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 …
 
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…
 
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.…
 
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 …
 
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