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 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 In this episode of Sidedoor, we follow McCulla as she scours historical documents to retrace Young's life and find out who she was...and what happened after her escape.
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
King of the Herbs
It’s a wild herb that countless cultures have used for centuries as a wonder drug to cure any ailment. It's so rare and valuable that it’s been dug to extinction nearly everywhere, except a small area of the United States. This time on Sidedoor, we go searching for the elusive wild American ginseng — and find that scientists, conservationists, and criminals are also on the hunt.
I love this podcast so much! I listen to it as much as possible while at work and it never fails to keep me entertained during a boring day. Solid!!! Btw Liz I love you!!!
I look forward to each episode
When I see each new episode in my feed, I feel very excited to jump in and listen because every show is absolutely fascinating. I highly recommend, if you are someone who enjoys discovery tune in!
Love the show. Thank you