More than 154 million treasures fill the Smithsonians 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 Smithsonians side door to search for stories that cant be found anywhere else. Check out and follow @SidedoorPod for more info.


  • The Gorilla Epidemic

    The Gorilla Epidemic

    14/10/2020 Duração: 31min

    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 2020 that humans and wildlife share more than a planet: we share disease.

  • Dress Coded

    Dress Coded

    30/09/2020 Duração: 28min

    Dress codes have been around a long time—from the old days of long skirts and bloomers to today’s regulation-length shorts. But while the specifics of what girls can wear to school have changed, the purpose of the codes has not.

  • Appalachia Goes Beijing

    Appalachia Goes Beijing

    16/09/2020 Duração: 24min

    When Abigail Washburn and Wu Fei first jammed together, “it was magic.” Fei was shocked to meet an American banjo player so curious about China’s culture; and Abigail Washburn met a classically trained composer whose talents on the guzheng, a 2500 year old 21-string Chinese harp, perfectly complimented her banjo pickin’. Today, they collaborate to make a new brand of folk music: one that combines the tones of Appalachia with the melodies of China.

  • The Peoples Insect

    The People's Insect

    02/09/2020 Duração: 27min

    To look at them, you might think, “Monarch butterflies aren’t going anywhere fast.” But each year, these beauties complete one of the most remarkable migrations in the animal kingdom, soaring more than a mile high to gather on a few mountaintops in Mexico they’ve never seen before, yet somehow they all know where to find. We unlock the secret lives of monarchs, and learn how to support them on their journey.

  • Bonus Ep: Cult of True Womanhood

    Bonus Ep: Cult of True Womanhood

    26/08/2020 Duração: 36min

    Bonus Episode | This week, we wanted to share “And Nothing Less,” the new short series from our colleagues at the National Park Service and PRX. It gives a much-needed closer look at the twisty history of the 19th Amendment - and its lesser-known heroes. It’s hosted by two fabulous women: Rosario Dawson and Retta. We’ll play the first episode right here, and you can find the rest of the series by searching (enunciate) “And Nothing Less” wherever you get your podcasts! 

  • The Riverkeeper

    The Riverkeeper

    19/08/2020 Duração: 24min

    Fred Tutman is the voice of the river. Specifically, Maryland’s Patuxent River.  As the Riverkeeper, his job is to protect and preserve all 110 miles of that waterway – a role that takes him both to the courtroom and to the riverbank. But Fred is also the only African American Riverkeeper in the United States, a fact he sees as an indicator of an environmental movement that is incomplete. And it’s the planet that will pay the price.  

  • Votes for Hawaiians

    Votes for Hawaiians

    05/08/2020 Duração: 31min

    100 years ago this month, the 19th Amendment was ratified into the American Constitution. It’s widely remembered as the moment American women gained the right to vote, but history tells a more complex story. For millions of Indigenous Americans living in far-flung territories, the 19th Amendment afforded some rights – but fell well short of what was promised. So this time: how women’s suffrage came to Hawaiʻi – and what was taken from Hawaiians to get there.

  • Apollo 12s Really Close Call

    Apollo 12's Really Close Call

    22/07/2020 Duração: 28min

    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.

  • Take Who Out to the Ball Game?

    Take Who Out to the Ball Game?

    08/07/2020 Duração: 29min

    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 “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Happy Birthday.” But long-forgotten lyrics reveal a feminist message buried amid the peanuts and cracker jack.

  • Shredding Skateboarding’s Glass Ceiling

    Shredding Skateboarding’s Glass Ceiling

    24/06/2020 Duração: 30min

    When Mimi Knoop entered her first skateboarding competition at 24 years old, she never anticipated leaving her mark on the sport forever. But in the early 2000s, she formed an alliance with pioneering skateboarder Cara-Beth Burnside to make a simple request: that the X Games – and the rest of the skateboarding industry – treat female skateboarders the same way they treat their male peers.

  • America’s Unknown Celebrity Chef

    America’s Unknown Celebrity Chef

    10/06/2020 Duração: 32min

    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, educator, author, and an icon – and her legacy lives on in her recipes. Today: her improbable rise to prominence, and her famous gumbo.

  • Young Harriet

    Young Harriet

    27/05/2020 Duração: 26min

    In 2017, a photograph of Harriet Tubman surfaced that had been lost to history for more than a century. In a feature of the National Portrait Gallery’s Portraits podcast, we hear the story behind this picture, and how its discovery changes the way we see Tubman – not just an icon of freedom and human dignity, but a courageous young woman.

  • The Peoples Insect

    The People's Insect

    13/05/2020 Duração: 27min

    To look at them, you might think, “Monarch butterflies aren’t going anywhere fast.” But each year, these beauties complete one of the most remarkable migrations in the animal kingdom, soaring more than a mile high to gather on a few mountaintops in Mexico they’ve never seen before, yet somehow they all know where to find. We unlock the secrets lives of monarchs, and learn how to support them on their journey.

  • Best of the Rest II

    Best of the Rest II

    29/04/2020 Duração: 32min

    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!

    Birds, Birds, Birds!

    15/04/2020 Duração: 25min

    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

    The Milkmaid Spy

    01/04/2020 Duração: 28min

    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

    The Last Man To Know It All

    18/03/2020 Duração: 27min

    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

    Outer Space & Underwear

    04/03/2020 Duração: 28min

    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.

  • Were Back!

    We're Back!

    26/02/2020 Duração: 02min

    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

    Cars, Stars, and Rock 'n' Roll

    22/01/2020 Duração: 29min

    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.  

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