Sidedoor show


Summary: 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 and follow @SidedoorPod for more info.

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 Best of the Rest II | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 32:03

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

 Birds, Birds, Birds! | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 25:53

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 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 28:36

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.

 The Last Man To Know It All | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 27:49

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 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 28:36

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! | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 02:25

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.

 Cars, Stars, and Rock 'n' Roll | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 29:18

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 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 28:57

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.

 The Worst Video Game Ever? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 26:35

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.

 Finding Cleopatra | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 26:51

Edmonia Lewis was the first American woman of color to achieve international fame as a sculptor. Her 3,000-pound masterwork, “The Death of Cleopatra,” commemorated another powerful woman who broke with convention… and then the sculpture disappeared. On this episode of Sidedoor, we find them both.

 Adam Rippon's Olympic Mesh-capades | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 21:44

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 Olympics, he was sure about his next steps. Rippon was a darling of the American Olympic media, entering all of his interviews ready with a joke and a willingness to speak candidly about his personal journey. In this episode, Rippon brings that same attitude to Sidedoor, talking about his Olympic costume, fame, and the male private part that we didn’t realize was private.

 Apollo 12's Really Close Call | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 27:55

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.

 Dynamite! | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 33:40

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 of Sidedoor, we team up with the history podcast Backstory to explore two less-typical applications of the explosive: the artistic blasting at Mount Rushmore, and how anarchists used dynamite to advance their political agenda in 1886.

 This Episode Smells | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 26:33

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 extinct for more than a century.

 The Dinosaur War | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 30:01

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 from good friends who named species after each other, to the bitterest of enemies who eventually ruined each other's lives and careers. Come for the dinos, stay for the grudges. Episode originally aired June 12, 2019.


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