Museums are no longer confined to the four walls of a building. Numerous gigabytes of content are being created to showcase museum collections in video, AR and VR. Rare books are being digitized. But these collections rarely reflect the actual stories behind the artefacts.
Audio could be a powerful medium for the stories that these objects and resources weave within themselves. Sidedoor, a podcast from the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC (yes, the one from Night at the Museum 2), has realised this and is offering something truly interesting. Science, history and art all come together against a backdrop of humanity.
The hosts don’t just rattle off factoids. Instead, they give listeners a feel of the museum from the perspective of the employees’ side door entrance.
The podcast has been produced in-house at the museum with support from PRX. The guests include employees and Smithsonian experts working in different departments – biologists, artists, historians, archaeologists, zookeepers and astrophysicists.
The newest host Lizzie Peabody (with support from producer Justin O’Neill) does a superb job to enliven the stories and research behind museum exhibits. A few of our favourite episodes include a history of beer brewing and how it is intertwined with the story of America itself, and a new perspective on the night sky as a musical instrument.
Tune in if dinosaurs, the Apollo missions, the worst video game ever and everything in between interest you. Listen