131 episodes

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.

Sidedoor Smithsonian Institution

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.8 • 88 Ratings

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.

    The Robot in the Mirror

    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: hello@dinkins.studio

    Website: www.stephaniedinkins.com

    Ashley Molese, a curator of the Smithsonian’s FUTURES exhibition

    Social media: @smithsonianAIB, #TheFUTURES

    • 32 min
    The Fugitive Brewer

    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 In this episode of Sidedoor, we follow McCulla as she scours historical documents to retrace Young's life and find out who she was...and what happened after her escape.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

    • 29 min
    Edison’s Demon Dolls

    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.

    • 26 min
    Chiura Obata’s Glorious Struggle

    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.”

    • 33 min
    Love in the Time of Emoji

    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. 

    • 27 min
    Light of Freedom

    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.  

     

    • 27 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
88 Ratings

88 Ratings

Scrappin'Alice ,

Fascinating variety of curiosities!

I enjoy the episodes because I always learn something interesting. I’m impressed at the amazing variety of ways the Smithsonian catalogues and creates opportunities to learn about our world and history.

loacl ,

Fun and Interesting

This podcast is as enjoyable as an after-hours stroll through a museum. The narration is very good and much improved since a good reader has taken over.
Highly recommended!

Java1025 ,

Just found you!

Just found you based on a recommendation, really enjoying your episodes! Thanks for sharing.

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