Podcasts: perfect for a long commute, road trip, or keeping you company while at work. They’re also one of our favorite ways to discover new museum content and ideas.
Here are 11 podcasts (or podcast episodes) that we think are must-listens for any museum lover.
This is recorded proof that you can have a whole lot of fun at a museum. Recorded at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County’s popular First Fridays, this is a conversational podcast about a range of science topics. Covering topics such as zombies, velociraptors, and superheroes, and masterfully tying them to the museum’s collections, this is a great example of a museum reaching out to new audiences and doing a great job.
Another great museum lecture series, the National Gallery of Art gives anyone access to their museum talks through this informative podcast. Artists, authors and historians cover a range of topics related to the museum’s collections, art, and history. While it’s definitely a more traditional style than First Fridays, over the course of almost 300 episodes, there are a host of interesting speakers and they are a great way to experience museum lectures in the comfort of your own home.
Imagine having to relocate thousands of art pieces, antiquities, and objects from a museum to a number of different locations. Earlier in the year, The British Museum debuted a two-part podcast telling the story of how they did just that and pulled off the biggest mass evacuation of objects from the museum on the eve of the Second World War.
Over the course of 10 episodes, this BBC 4 podcast series tells stories of antiquities and historical sites that have been destroyed or looted amidst the conflict in Iraq and Syria over the past few years.
With most episodes under 5 minutes, this KCRW show is a great starter podcast for art-lovers. Long-time host and art critic Edward Goldman (who previously worked for the stunning Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg) highlights art and museums from around the world. It has a serious tone, but packs a lot of interesting facts and observations into a short amount of time.
This weekly podcast series by the International Spy Museum is dedicated to all things espionage. Interviews with authors, scholars and ex-spies cover every topic imaginable in over 240 episodes of this series. If classified information, covert operations, and undercover missions are your thing, this is the podcast for you!
Although not a museum-specific podcast, Actuality finds a way to make museums fit into their series exploring the new global economy. In the episode “Museums: Wherefore contemporary art thou?”, hosts Sabri Ben-Achour and Tim Fernholz explore the contemporary art market. Starting with a visit to a private auction, they go on to explore the changing relationship between contemporary art and traditional public museums. While we don’t agree that museums are “stuffy” – especially not the Met – this is a personable, conversational look into the high-end contemporary art world.
On this Slate Magazine podcast dedicated to highlighting interesting jobs — including a NASA scientist, a forensic anthropologist and Obama’s head speechwriter — is an episode on Mary Elliott, a curator with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture. This interview is full of insights into how museum exhibits are planned, how curators need to anticipate questions that visitors will have and how the exhibit is meant to be experienced by visitors.
This debate series aired an episode in early 2016 debating the role museums play in shaping culture and arguing whether museums have failed in telling us why they matter. Titled “Museums Are Bad At Telling Us Why Art Matters,” British panelists, both museum professionals and otherwise, present both sides of the debate for a lively discussion. Obviously, you know what side of the debate we’re on – museums are f***ing awesome – but listen and decide for yourself!
The intrinsic connection between museums, art and history means this great How Stuff Works podcast covers a lot of art and museum-related topics. With a straightforward, factual approach, hosts Holly Frey and Tracy Wilson explore the lesser known stories of history. Among their 300 episodes are the story of Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, the first French woman to become a court painter when she was commissioned to paint Marie Antoinette; a brief history of Michelangelo’s Pietà; and the mysterious Phaistos Disk.
Another podcast from How Stuff Works, hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant’s banter is an entertaining way to learn about hundreds of topics, including some museum-related ones. In a conversational style, the pair have covered topics such as How the Louvre Works, How the La Brea Tar Pits Work and even How Shrunken Heads Work, which includes a discussion on counterfeits that have been found in museums across the U.S.
Museum Hack’s very own Kate Downey talks to History, Bitches about our Badass Bitches of the Met tour. Hear Kate talk about why she started the tours and why the women of the Met need to be celebrated (hint: it’s because they rock)!