My own podcast about Icelandic museums, Museums in Strange Places, has given me the chance to see “behind-the-curtain” in so many amazing museums, and if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that museums are leaving so many of their most human and compelling stories untold. Since it’s through podcasting that I’ve discovered these stories, I started to wonder how museums around the world were using podcasting to have a more intimate platform for telling stories and engaging their audience. To that end, I scoured all the podcasting platforms and reached out to the Twitterverse and Facebook groups to compile the most complete list of podcasts by museums on the internet.
Looking for podcasts about museum work and for museum professionals? You can find all of those on my other super great list, here.
How the List is Organized (and Who I Left Off)
I’ve divided the podcasts I’ve found into history museums, science and natural history museum, art museums, and a category for mixed-interest and other museums that don’t fit in the previous groups.
- I know “podcast” can be used for video, but I am only including audio podcasting, as that’s the most common and popular form of the medium.
- I was not interested in podcasts that were just recordings of lectures, events, or audio guides put online. For podcast channels without at least some commentary or discussion of the recording, I just appended them to the end of each section in the bulleted list. And I did not go out of my way to find those types.
- With limited exception, I didn’t include any podcasts that were not available on at least one podcasting platform (in other word, if they are just mp3’s on a website, I left it out).
- I didn’t include podcasts that hadn’t been updated in the last two years.
- With a few exceptions, I only included podcasts created BY museums or in partnership with museums.
- I have included podcasts in languages besides English. Languages besides English are noted and highlighted.
- PLEASE NOTE: This is every podcast I could find, so I have not listened to all of them, and I am not recommending or endorsing them, just putting them all in one place. I did, however, highlight the names of a few that I regularly listen to.
- Within the sections, the podcasts are in no particular order.
- Smithsonian had a bunch and they were not well organized, so they have their own section in the list.
- I have included at least one way to listen, but the links to listening platforms are in no way comprehensive, so if you want to listen elsewhere than Apple Podcasts, you’ll have to just search on your own.
Help Me Improve the List!
I know I didn’t get every podcast out there (turns out museums are terrible at making their podcasts accessible and findable). If you know of one that’s not on the list, please send me an email at info[at]hhethmon[dot]com or send me a tweet @hannah_rfh.
I am particularly interested in adding more podcasts in languages other than English!
Podcasts by History Museums
The British Museum Membercast by the British Museum: (London, England) “A monthly podcast made available to ‘all studious and curious persons’. Comedian, podcaster and super-fan Iszi Lawrence (The Z List Dead List) presents snippets from exclusive Members’ lectures at the Museum, artfully woven together with interviews and her own musings.” Website, Apple Podcasts
The British Museum also collaborated with BBC to produced A History of the World in 100 Objects, hosted by the British Museum’s Director, Neil MacGregor.
They also have a few episodes posted on Apple Podcasts as the British Museum Podcast. You can try and figure out which one is their main podcast is you can!
The Kitchen Stories by the Jewish Museum and Archives of BC: (Vancouver, BC, Canada) “Exploring the links between food, community, and heritage with the Jewish Museum and Archives of BC.” Apple Podcasts, Podbean
Texas Story Podcast by the Bullock Texas State History Museum: (Austin, TX, USA) Season one’s topic: “Join the Bullock Museum in a first-ever Texas Story Podcast that discovers the music and legacy of Texas’s own Stevie Ray Vaughan still thriving in the Live Music Capital of the World.” Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud
Our City. Our Story. by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum: (New York City, NY, USA) “Our City. Our Story. profiles engaging New York personalities, from the everyday to the very well-known, examining the place that 9/11 has taken in the greater context of their lives. Through these stories we see how New Yorkers, and the city itself, responded, coped and persevered. The series is hosted by Jenny Pachucki, an oral historian, and is produced by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center.” Website, Apple Podcasts
Curator Podcasts by Royal Museums Greenwich: (London, England) “Join our experts in a new audio series exploring the big questions about time, space and the sea.” Soundcloud
Artist in the Archive in partnership with the Library of Congress: (Washington, D.C., USA) “Join the Library of Congress’s Innovator-in-Residence Jer Thorp as he explores the 165 million items in the library’s collection and speaks with the librarians, archivist and technologists who try to make sense of it all.” It’s worth reading the artist’s introduction to the podcast here. Apple Podcasts, Podbean
The Speeches of President John F. Kennedy by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum: (Boston, MA) “The Speeches of President John F. Kennedy is a podcast series of the most memorable and historical speeches delivered by John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States. Each episode features a brief introduction by former Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum Curator Frank Rigg, who gives the historical context of each speech.” Apple Podcasts
The Book by The Museum of the Bible: (Washington, D.C.) “The Book, presented by Museum of the Bible, is a unique one-minute podcast that features unusual stories and interesting facts about the bestselling book of all time, the Bible.” Apple Podcasts
21 Revolutions Podcast by the Glasgow Women’s Library (Glasgow, Scotland): “To mark Glasgow Women’s Library’s 21st anniversary, the Library commissioned 21 women writers to create new work inspired by items and artefacts in our collections. In this podcast series, the writers read their work and talk about the inspiration behind each new piece.” Apple Podcasts
Glasgow Women’s Library Podcast by the Glasgow Women’s Library (Glasgow, Scotland): “An occasional series of podcasts from Glasgow Women’s Library, featuring a world of women’s words – written, spoken and heard. Glasgow Women’s Library is a vibrant information hub housing a lending library, archive collections and contemporary and historical artefacts relating to women’s lives, histories and achievements.” Apple Podcasts
Voices on Antisemitism by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: (Washington, D.C., USA) “Join us every month to hear a new perspective on the continuing threat of antisemitism and hatred in our world today.” Apple Podcasts, Website
Voices of the First World War by Imperial War Museums: (London, England) “Hear about the First World War from those who were there. This fascinating series uses original recordings to mark the centenary of 1914. Find transcripts, photos and more at http://www.1914.org.” Apple Podcasts
Podcasts from the University of Oxford Museums: Trying to identify, locate, and then find iTunes links for Oxford University Museum podcasts among the staggering amount of podcasts created by University departments drove me crazy after half an hour, so if you want to try and find and subscribe to them, I wish you good luck. You can see all University of Oxford podcasts here (no, you can’t just go to the website of the individual museum…that would be too easy).
Historically Yours by the University of Iowa Special Collections: (Iowa City, IA) “The staff and friends of the University of Iowa Special Collections are snoops who like to peer into people’s personal lives. It just so happens the people we’re investigating left us long ago, but here and there one of their letters made their way into the archives. The letters are full of silly things, boring things, love, pain, and the weather: daily life. We’re pulling them out of the collections one by one and taking you along as we find out what you can learn from just one letter. Hosted by Colleen Theisen.” Podbean, Apple Podcasts
The Remick Country Doctor Museum & Farm Podcast: (Tamworth Village, NH, USA) “Want to know more about the lives of our very own country doctors? Want to learn about what surgery was like in 1899? Ever wonder how we make maple syrup? If you answered yes to any of these questions, or if you’re simply curious about the rich history and continuing story of Remick Country Doctor Museum & Farm, this is the podcast for you!” Stitcher, Website
Langelands Museum Podcast: (Danish/ Dansk //Rudkøbing, Denmark) “Podcast fra Langelands Museum om aktuelle udstillinger og gode historier fra museets mange afdelinger. Fra stenalder til velfærdssamfund. ” Podbean
Sydfynske Fortællinger by the Svendborg Museum: (Danish/ Dansk //Svendborg, Denmark) “Lyt med når Svendborg Museum og Radio Diablo deler de spændende, sjove og skæve fortællinger, som den sydfynske historie er rig på. Hver episode er en samtale mellem historikere, arkæologer og forfattere om den sydfynske historie.” Soundcloud
Vestsjællandske Historier by Museum Vestsjælland: (Danish/ Dansk //Sorø, Denmark) “Vi elsker gode historier. Museum Vestsjælland er det statsanerkendte kulturhistoriske museum for de godt 285.000 borgere i Midt- og Vestsjælland. Vi fortæller historie: Lokalhistorie og danmarkshistorie på mange måder.” Podbean
- Pritzker Military Museum & Library Podcasts (Chicago, IL, USA)
- First Person Podcast Series by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (Washington, D.C., USA)
- Recorded lectures and talks by the Maine Historical Society (Portland, ME, USA)
- Kennedy Library Forums by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum (Boston, MA, USA)
- Bishop Museum recorded lectures and programs (Honolulu, HI, USA)
Podcasts by Science Museums & Natural History Museums
Distillations by Chemical Heritage Foundation/ Science History Institute: (Philadelphia, PA) The podcast “explores the human stories behind science and technology, tracing a path through history in order to better understand the present. Our hosts are Michal Meyer, a historian of science and editor in chief of Distillations magazine, and Bob Kenworthy, the Institute’s in-house chemist. Each month we explore the issues at the intersection of science, culture, and history.” Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts
ExploreAStory by the Field Museum: “A podcast about museums, science and storytelling, hosted by Emily Graslie,” better known as the host of The Brain Scoop series on YouTube. Apple Podcasts
#NHM_Live by the Natural History Museum: (London, England) “#NHM_Live features examples of the over 80 million specimens of the Natural History Museum in London. In each broadcast, the Museum’s science communicators are joined by the curators and researchers who care for and study them.” Apple Podcasts
DISSEKTION by Statens Naturhistoriske Museum: (Danish/ Dansk // Copenhagen, Denmark) “I DISSEKTION kommer vi med konservatorens kniv helt ind under huden på dyret og åbner for vores viden, holdninger og følelser for det enkelte dyr. På den anatomiske rejse når vi tættere på dyret, gennem de naturvidenskabelige og historiske fortællinger. DISSEKTION er produceret for Statens Naturhistoriske Museum af Hz&Tone med støtte fra 15. Juni Fonden.” Website, Apple Podcasts
[English Description partly by @youngmeerim: In Dissektion, the conservators get under the skin of the animal with the conservator’s knife, and discuss their knowledge, opinions, and feelings for the animal in question. The audience get closer to the animal through scientific and historical stories on this anatomical journey.
Paluu tulevaisuuteen by Tiedekeskus Heurekassa (Finnish/ Suomi // Helsinki, Finland): “Bassolta tutun Klaus (Wing) Elfvingin isännöimä Heurekan oma podcast vaihtuvine asiantuntijahaastateltavineen. Mukana vakiovieraina Kira Elfving & Tuuti Piippo. Paluu Tulevaisuuteen on podcast tieteestä ja tulevaisuudesta – siis tutkimusmatka tieteen ja tulevaisuuden kiehtovimpiin aiheisiin!” Website, Apple Podcasts
SNaQ: Science News and Qs by the Carnegie Science Center: (Pittsburgh, PA) “Hosts Charissa Sedor and Ralph Crewe talk about science headlines, delve deeper into cool science topics and answer listener submitted science questions with a fun, Carnegie Science Center style.” (They also have a podcast for recorded lectures.) Apple Podcasts, Podbean
The Current Science & Technology Podcast by the Museum of Science:(Boston, MA, USA) “Join us for interviews with a variety of experts taking a closer look at the latest advances in science, technology, engineering, art, and math.” Apple Podcasts
The Sauropodcast by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History: (Cleveland, OH, USA) “…where you can find provocative, engaging, enlightening conversations about science. Produced by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and hosted by award-winning science journalist John Mangels, this half-hour interview show features scientists and science newsmakers discussing cutting-edge topics from the frontiers of research and the intersection of science, policy, popular culture and everyday life. It’s science out loud.” Podbean
Science at ANMH by the American Museum of Natural History: (New York City, NY, USA) I’ve been told, while past episodes are more recorded lectures, they are including more and more original content on this channel. “The American Museum of Natural History presents over 200 public events each year, including lectures and presentations by scientists, authors, and researchers at the forefront of their fields. These podcasts showcase event highlights, and often reveal the findings of the Museum’s own cutting-edge research in genomics, paleontology, astrophysics, biodiversity, and evolutionary biology.” Souncloud, Apple Podcasts
Podcasts by Art Museums
The Concert by the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: ( LOCATION) “Music has been an integral part of the Gardner experience since Isabella Stewart Gardner opened her Museum with a celebration featuring a performance by members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Today, you can listen to music from the Gardner Museum anytime—for free! The Museum’s rich musical program is available to listeners across the globe on a free classical music podcast as well as via individual audio recordings.” Website, Apple Podcasts
Raw Material by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: (San Francisco, CA) “Raw Material is an arts and culture podcast from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). Each season focuses on a different topic, featuring voices of artists working in all media and exploring the inspiration and stories behind modern and contemporary art.” Apple Podcasts
Art Palace by Cincinnati Art Museum: (Cincinnati, OH, USA) “A podcast where we meet cool people and then talk about art. With different guests from all walks of life, we show how everyone can have conversations about art and culture. New episodes are posted approximately every two weeks.” Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud
Museum Confidential by the Public Radio Tulsa and the Philbrook Museum of Art: (Tulsa, OK) Museum Confidential is a behind-the-scenes look at museums hosted by Jeff Martin of tge Philbrook Museum of Art and produced by Scott Gregory with Public Radio Tulsa. New episodes every two weeks. NPR, Apple Podcasts
Hangs by the University of Queensland Art Museum: (St Lucia, Australia) “Hangs is a podcast produced by the University of Queensland Art Museum. Every episode, we’re joined by two different personalities who share their ideas and stories as they wander through our current exhibition.” Podbean
A Piece of Work by WNYC Studios and MoMAA Piece of Work: (New York City, NY) Everything you want to know about modern and contemporary art but were afraid to ask. A bicycle wheel attached to a stool; a giant canvas splattered with paint; dozens of soup cans: for many museum visitors, encountering these works and others prompts a ton of questions. Hosted by Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson, this 10-episode podcast explores everything from Pop art to performance in lively conversations with curators, artists, and Abbi’s friends, including Hannibal Buress, Tavi Gevinson, RuPaul, and Questlove.” NPR, Apple Podcasts
The Gallery Gap in partnership with the Figge At Museum (Davenport, IA) and Augustana College’s Teaching Museum of Art (Rock Island, IL): “WVIK Quad Cities NPR has partnered with the Figge Art Museum and Augustana College’s Teaching Museum of Art to produce a new podcast focusing on underrepresented populations in art galleries across the world.” NPR, Apple Podcasts
Art + Ideas by The Getty: (Los Angeles, CA) “Join Jim Cuno, president of the J. Paul Getty Trust, in Art + Ideas, a podcast series in which he talks with artists, writers, curators, and scholars about their work. Listen in as he engages these important thinkers in reflective and critical conversations about architecture, archaeology, art history, and museum exhibitions.” Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts, Google Play
Radio del Museo Reina Sofía by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía: (Castellano/ Spanish // Madrid, Spain) “Los sonidos que aquí se pueden escuchar no solo aspiran a ser una versión acústica de la experiencia en el Museo, sino que pretenden convertirse en nuevos continentes, capaces de amplificar las nociones de Colección, Exposición y Debate.” Website, Apple Podcasts
[English Translation from the website: The sounds heard in this space seek to render an acoustic version of the Museo, endeavoring to become new continents that are able to amplify the notions of Collection, Exhibition and Debate.]
Podcasts by the Design Museum: (London, England) “The Design Museum is one of the worlds leading museum’s of contemporary design. This podcast channel is a colourful take on the themes and questions raised in the museum, and provides an insight into the designs and designers that impact the way we view the world.” Soundcloud
The V&A Museum is regularly putting things on Souncloud, but I couldn’t find a description of the program or anything except an old series from 2013 on iTunes.
BONUS ROUND: The incomparable and delightfully odd/creepy Night Vale Productions team has a new audio drama season of Within the Wires based on museum audio tours. “The hit audio drama Within the Wires returns with a new story told through found audio from an alternate universe. Season two, “Museum Audio Tours,” tells its story in the guise of ten audio museum guides. Over the course of a decade of worldwide exhibitions, these walkthroughs unravel the complex story of a mysterious disappearance of an artist’s mentor.”
- Recorded Talks by the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History (Ann Arbor, MI, USA)
- First Fridays Science Discussion Series by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (Los Angeles, CA, USA)
- NHMLA Talks by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA, USA)
- Colby College Museum of Art (Waterville, ME, USA)
- George Eastman Museum (Rochester, NY, USA)
- Art Talk by Tate (London, England)
- Norton Simon Museum Podcasts (Pasadena, CA, USA)
- Conversations from the Academy Art Museum Easton, MD, USA)
Podcasts by Smithsonian/ Smithsonian Museums (Washington, D.C.)
The Smithsonian museums have been big adopters of podcasting. It makes sense, since podcasting at a high quality can require more budget and (way) more time than small museums can spare.
Sidedoor: “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 Tony Cohn 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. Website, iTunes, Google Play
AirSpace by the National Air and Space Museum: “The National Air and Space Museum contains the largest and most significant collection of air- and spacecraft in the world. Behind those amazing machines are thousands of stories of human achievement, failure, and perseverance. Join Emily, Matt, and Nick as they demystify one of the world’s most visited museums and explore why people are so fascinated with stories of exploration, innovation, and discovery.” iTunes, Google Play,RadioPublic,Stitcher
Historically Black (National Museum of African American History and Culture*): *Not actually by the museum, but just seemed so interesting (and the kind of thing that could have been done by the museum itself) that I couldn’t leave it out.* “Objects hold history. They’re evocative of stories stamped in time. As part of The Washington Post’s coverage of the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture, people submitted dozens of objects that make up their own lived experiences of black history, creating a “people’s museum” of personal objects, family photos and more. The Historically Black podcast brings those objects and their stories to life through interviews, archival sound and music. The Washington Post and APM Reports are proud to collaborate in presenting these rich personal histories, along with hosts Keegan-Michael Key, Roxane Gay, Issa Rae and Another Round hosts Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton.” Website, iTunes, Radio Public
History Explorer by the National Museum of American History: “Takes listeners along on our staff’s intellectual adventures as they conduct exciting research and collect objects—both the iconic and seemingly mundane—to tell compelling stories about American history. Accompanying each episode is a teacher guide and images.” Website, iTunes
Oral History Collection from the Archives of American Art by Archives of American Art: “With audio drawn from the archives, giving voice to the human stories behind our nation’s most significant art.” Website, iTunes
Smithsonian Folkways Podcasts:
Podcasts from General Interest Museums, Other Types of Museums
GirlSpeak by the Girl Museum: (Virtual) “A podcast series all about art, history, and contemporary culture from a girl’s eye view. Mid-month, we discuss girls in history or art. We also have specially themed podcasts for our exhibitions and events. At the end of the month, tune in for our roundup of girl-related news from around the world. GirlSpeak is produced by Girl Museum, the first and only museum in the world dedicated to celebrating girlhood. We are a completely volunteer-run, virtual museum and a registered 501(c)3 educational non-profit. Our programs and exhibitions bring girl’s history and voices to the forefront of cultural discussion and advocate for girls’ rights around the world.” Apple Podcasts, Podbean
ROMcast by the Royal Ontario Museum: (Toronto, ON, Canada) “Who works behind the scenes at the Royal Ontario Museum? What do they do all day? Meet the people who make the museum tick in this candid podcast series!” Souncloud
PEMcast by the Peabody Essex Museum: (Salem, MA) “Conversations and stories for the culturally curious co-hosted by Dinah Cardin and Chip Van Dyke. This is the official podcast of the Peabody Essex Museum.” Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts
AMplify by the Australian Museum: (Sydney, Australia) “A regular look behind the scenes at Australia’s first museum. Join Director & CEO Kim McKay AO in conversation with scientists from the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI) and experts in Indigenous Australian and Pacific cultures. When not ‘in conversation’, AMplify will bring the best from the AM’s live talks, giving you a front row seat at enlightening presentations from inspirational people.” Website, Apple Podcasts
CarStories by the Petersen Automotive Museum: (Los Angeles, CA, USA) “CarStories is committed to bringing you the best interviews and automotive stories from celebrities, racers, enthusiasts and listeners around the globe with James McKeone.” Website, Apple Podcasts
ACMI Podcasts the Australian Center for the Moving Image: (Melbourne, Australia) “Australia’s only national museum of film, video games, digital culture and art – situated at the heart of Melbourne in Fed Square. Listen to our latest podcasts of live events, playlists associated with exhibitions, and more.” I couldn’t figure out if it was the same podcast on Apple and Souncloud, so you’ll have to figure that out yourself if you want to listen! Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud
The Morbid Anatomy Transmission by the Morbid Anatomy Museum: (Brooklyn, NY, USA). The Morbid Anatomy Museum is an exhibition, library, and event space that explores the intersections of death, beauty, and that which falls between the cracks. On this podcast, host Molly McBride Jacobson interviews event hosts, experts, and eccentrics on topics relating to death culture and obscure history. Apple Podcasts, Podomatic
The Shoe Stories of Notable People by Bata Shoe Museum: (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) I did say I wouldn’t include any that just posted recordings on their website, but this I had to include this one because it seemed rather quirky and unique. They also have a series on their website called Roger Vivier: Process to Perfection. Website
On the Mat by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame’s Dan Gable Museum: (Cedar Falls, IA, USA) “Weekly radio show produced by KCNZ 1650 The Fan in Cedar Falls, Iowa and hosted by Kyle Klingman of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame’s Dan Gable Museum. Guests featured have ties to Iowa as well as national wrestling topics. Part of the Mat Talk Podcast Network.” Apple Podcasts
Museum of Comedy Podcast by the Museum of Comedy: (London, England) “Comedy historian Robert Ross interviews comedy stars about their work as well as their personal favourites and influences.” Apple Podcasts, Website
New Zealand Cricket Museum: (Wellington, New Zealand) “Established in 1987, the New Zealand Cricket Museum is located in the historic Museum Stand at Wellington’s iconic Basin Reserve. Here we present two special features: From The Archive, with highlights from our collection, and Last Over With Erin, a series of interviews with former-New Zealand players from Erin Campbell.” Podbean
The Hollywood Scifi Horror Museum: (Hollywood, CA, USA) “Huston Huddleston speaks with guests from the worlds of Sci-Fi and Horror. Listeners will also get updates on the Hollywood Sci-Fi and Horror Museums.” Podbean, Apple Podcasts
Museums in Strange Places Podcast
Of course, I have to include my own podcast on this list! It’s not by a museum, but they who make the rules get to break them too. Museums in Strange Places is a podcast for people who love museums, stories, culture, and exploring the world.
This year, I’m living in Iceland, so in each episode, I visit a different Icelandic museum to discover what stories they hold and how they reflect and shape Iceland’s unique cultural identity, all from the perspective of a museum professional. Next year…I’ll be somewhere else in Europe!
Subscribe to Museums in Strange Places and you can expect fascinating conversations with Icelandic museum professionals, world class exhibitions, private museums in gas stations, an introduction to Icelanders and their knack for storytelling, and a unique window into the inner workings of museums on this strange but wonderful little island.
Resources for Museums Interested in Podcasting
The Community Museums Association of Prince Edward Island for the Canadian Heritage Information Network have put together a brief overview of podcasting here.
I highly recommend the AASLH Techncial Leaflet, “How to Make a Podcast” by Dan Yaeger and Marieke Van Damme (the hosts and creators of the Museum People podcast).