Our newest podcast is Collected, a project of the museum’s African American History Curatorial Collective. Centering stories curated by the Collective’s members, this podcast offers compelling and accessible journeys through topics in African American history that are particularly relevant today. The topic for the first season of Collected, launching February 2022, is Black Feminism.
Listen, learn more, and subscribe.
In 2019, the museum hosted the ten-episode series Lost at the Smithsonian. Comedian and pop culture fanatic Aasif Mandvi gets up close and personal with the most iconic artifacts at the National Museum of American History.
Formerly, the museum produced two podcast series:
- “History Explorer” took 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. Visit the Smithsonian's History Explorer website for more free educational materials.
- “Prototype Online: Inventive Voices” was produced by the museum's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation and features interviews and lectures of renowned inventors and innovators.
Individual episodes for these two series are presented on this page below.
Why are objects useful teaching tools? How should you choose which objects to use? Learn the answers to these questions from Richard Kurin, the Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture at the Smithsonian Institution, who recently published his new book "History of America in 101 Objects."
Patti McGee has a lot of "firsts" to her name--first professional woman skateboarder, first woman inducted into the International Skateboarding Hall of Fame, and--in 1965 at the age of 19--the first skateboarder to appear on the covers of both Life and Skateboarder Mag
Freedom Summer veteran Courtland Cox discusses his work in the civil rights movement, the relationship between the work of Freedom Summer and the recent voter registration requirements, and emphasizes that the challenge of this generation of young people will be the fight for equal access to qual
Filmmaker Jacob Rosenberg knows more than a little about the skate world. A former skater himself, Rosenberg grew up with skateboarder Danny Way, whose 2005 jump over the Great Wall of China is the stuff of legend.
Harry Clarke, a Museum Freedom School intern, discusses how we should remember Martin Luther King, Jr.
Lemelson Center Fellowships support a wide range of research on the history of invention and innovation.
Joy Lyman, a Museum Freedom School intern, hosts this special episode of History Explorer on civil rights activist Zoharah Simmons.
In Part 1 of this interview, W. Bernard Carlson, author of Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age, describes Tesla’s cultural background and childhood in Serbia, his work at Thomas Edison’s lab, and two of Tesla’s best-known inventions--the Tesla coil and the alternating current motor.
In Part 2 of this interview, W. Bernard Carlson, author of Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age, discusses Tesla’s invention process, business partners, and mentors. He also offers thoughts on advice that Tesla might have for today’s youth.
Nicholas Nchamukong, a Museum Freedom School intern, hosts this special episode of History Explorer on civil rights activist June Johnson.
Artist-designer-inventor Adam Harvey explores the aesthetics of privacy through clothing and accessories that block common surveillance technologies, including data mining, facial recognition, and thermal imaging.
Harry Clarke, a Museum Freedom School intern, hosts this special episode of History Explorer on civil rights activist Martha Prescott Norman.
Robin Logan and Cindy Whitehead talk about their careers as two of the first professional women skateboarders and highlight their recent donations to the collections o
Whether you've seen him on the cover of a poster, as the central character in a comic, or leading a parade, Uncle Sam is a clear embodiment of the United States. Was Uncle Sam ever a real person? Where did the idea come from?
Benjamin Franklin is one of the founding fathers of the United States; he is also widely considered one of the founding fathers of electrical science.
At a sock hop in 1958 Bob Casey used two turntables to play music for the crowd. His system is credited with being the first double-decked audio-system used by a disc jockey.
Often incorporating aspects ritual and secrecy, fraternal orders are voluntary associations of men and women that date back to the early 18th century.
Trek Bicycles was the first company to incorporate carbon fiber into their bike frames and is also the first bicycle company to explore recycling carbon fiber frames.
What do British cattle and Mexican cowboys have to do with the history of Hawaiian folk music? A lot, as it turns out. Slack Key guitar master Reverend Dennis Kamakahi explains in this episode of History Explorer. The episode features songs Rev.
What does an 1850s sewing machine patent have to do with the current debates about patent thickets, NPEs, costly litigation, and other modern patent policy concerns?
April is Jazz Appreciation Month! This year, the National Museum of American History is highlighting and celebrating the career of John Levy.
Recently, the US Military officially opened combat positions to women. In this episode of History Explorer, curators Bart Hacker and Margaret Vining discuss the roles that women have played in the military throughout history, their research, and this new policy.
In this episode of History Explorer, Sarah Coffee hears from Rayna Green about how curators working on the exhibit, Food: Transforming the American Table, 1950-2000,got out of the museum and did field research to capture the stories of ordinary Americans.
Jesse Heitz, King's College, London, discusses how Confederate Secretary of the Navy Stephen Mallory chose to combat the Union navy’s superior number of ships by utilizing the new technology of cladding ships in iron.
We’re going to go behind the seams to explore the many layers of the Museum’s latest acquisition—Elphaba’s dress from the Broadway Musical Wicked, which gave a new spin on L. Frank Baum’s well known book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Joan Boudreau, curator of Graphic Arts at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, highlights the role of tabletop portable printing presses in field communications, from rapid production and distribution of urgent military orders to dissemination of more entertaining documents, such
In August 2012, the Lemelson Center invited Rodney Mullen, the unquestioned leader and pioneer of street skating, to visit us to discuss the role of invention and innovation in American life.
Missed our 2012 New Perspectives symposium, "Political Machines: Innovations in Campaigns and Advertising"? Here's your chance to catch some of the highlights.
In this episode of the History Explorer Podcast, Sarah Coffee talks with curator Rayna Green about what we can learn from seemingly simple line drawings about the lives and memories of Plains Indians who lived over 130 years ago.
Curators Harry Rubenstein and Larry Bird discuss their trips to the national nominating conventions, how they collect political memorabilia, what questions they ask, and what advice they have for starting your own collection.
Get a sneak peek at our 2012 symposium, “Political Machines: Innovations in Campaigns and Elections.” Eric Hintz provides an overview of the event, followed by interviews with Joyce Bedi on technology in political advertising, Eric Hintz on technology in political campaigns, Larry Bir
During World War II, America began its largest experiment with guest Labor, The Mexican Farm Labor Program. Commonly called the bracero program, this little known chapter of American and Mexican history touched the lives of countless men, women, families, and communities.
When the fashion industry declares that lime green is the new black, or instructs us to "think pink!," it is not the result of a backroom deal forged by a secretive cabal of fashion journalists, designers, manufacturers, and the editor of Vogue.
The first Olympic Games began in 776 BC, but the Olympic Games as we know them today started much later—the 19th century. Learn about the surprising beginnings of the modern Olympic Games and how much has changed since with curator Eric Jentsch.
While he is predominantly known for his music, Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famer Graham Nash has been a photographer for much of his life.
Like it or not, weather is a major part of our lives, and being able to predict it is extremely useful.
Going on a road trip? Along the way, listen to this special edition of the History Explorer podcast. It’s a compilation of some newer and older podcasts around the theme of perhaps the most common car ride entertainment—music.
Ken Kimery, the executive director of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and the Jazz Oral History Project, discusses the Jazz Oral History Project with museum educator Matt Hoffman.
Shannon Perich, curator of the photographic collection at the National Museum of American History, discusses the invention of the daguerreotype, a method of early photography.
Curator Paul Johnston takes us behind the scenes and talks about several objects related to the Titanic and the efforts to rescue passengers from the 1912 sinking.
Curator Eric Jentsch discusses the history of the Harlem Globetrotters, an all-African American basketball team that barnstormed through segregated America to become the world's most recognizable sports team.
Musician Jim Dooley talks about the process involved in creating music for modern video games and how he records and develops his own sounds.
Curatorial assistant Noriko Sanefuji interviews Grant Ichikawa, a US veteran who enlisted after being relocated to a Japanese American internment camp with his family in 1942. Allowed to join the army after a need for interpreters, Mr.
Has the government’s role in the space program influenced innovation? In this month’s podcast we hear from Howard McCurdy, a professor of public administration and policy at American University and an authority on space history and policy. Dr.
Museum curator Paul Johnston discusses the field of underwater archaeology and how the study of shipwrecks can add to our understanding of many areas and eras in US history.
Musuem curator Deborah Warner discusses the role of sugar and various sweeteners in American history. In addition to being a staple in the American diet, sugar's role in our nation's history touches on subjects of science and technology, labor and capital, politics and even popular culture.
Curator in the Photographic Collection at the NMAH examines three unique photographic portraits, showing how portraiture and the creation of an image between sitter and photographer, can be used to express many ideas, beyond that of simply a picture of an individual.
Matthew Hersch, a lecturer in the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania, discusses the history behind the development of the space suit.
Staff from the museum's paper conservation lab discuss the preservation and repair behind Thomas Jefferson's personal Bible and other paper objects at the museum.
Jason Bannister, chief artist and scientist of Mechanimal, a robotics company in Pittsburgh, designs, sketches and builds robots. In this episode he shows how inventors can start with a basic pencil on paper sketch and eventually wind up with a truly amazing creation.
Former Senior Scholar and Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs, James Gardner discusses the museum's collection efforts and object stories follwing the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
Six years ago, Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast of the United States. In her wake, a team of curators from the museum set out to collect objects that captured the history of the moment and what it meant to the country.
You might remember Crockett Johnson as the writer and illustrator of Harold and the Purple Crayon. In this episode, curator Peggy Kidwell discusses how Johnson's mathematical artwork was inspired by a growing interest amongst Americans in math and science.
How did Minnesota spawn a world-class cluster of medical device companies? David Rhees begins the “Medical Alley” hot spot story in 1949, when Earl Bakken co-founded Medtronic as a repair shop for medical electronics, before the company became a world-leading medical device manufacturer.
Belasco, professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and a pioneer of the academic food-studies movement, explores a history of the future of food, showing how futuristic visions appear in invention, economic theory, science fiction, policy debates, and more.
Katherine Ott, curator in the Division of Medicine and Science discusses this important anniversary and how it fits into the history of both science and our society.
Shannon Perich, associate curator at the National Museum of American History, discusses how portraiture can be used in historical research.
What can Julia Child’s kitchen teach us about accessible design? Bess Williamson, Ph.D.
Richard Doty, senior curator of the National Numismatics Collection, shares the story of the "Richmond Hoard", an enormous collection of Confederate currency obtained by the museum. With April, 2011 marking the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, Mr.
Learn what it takes to develop a great National History Day project from some museum staff members who have judged the national level in the past. National History Day is an annual competition that engages students in the past through their own well-researched projects.
Vickie Kloeris, manager of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Space Food Systems Laboratory, develops food for shuttle and International Space Station astronauts.
Christopher Wilson talks about the use of Freedom Songs during the Civil Rights Movement and how they are incorporated into public programs on the museum floor.
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Petrina Foti discusses the history behind the original home video game system and how to study objects such as computer and video games.
Truck Farm began with Ian Cheney’s desire to grow food, without any land of his own, in a big city. The film (and the farm) became a powerful way of exploring inventive agricultural efforts throughout New York City, and showing how farming speaks to young people’s imaginations.
Curator William Lawrence Bird on the tradition of American holiday display.
Curator Rayna Green discusses the history of the Thanksgiving holiday and how studying food can teach us about American history.
Invention affects our food and drink in countless ways. This podcast features John Andrade, owner of Meridian Pint, a bar focused on environmental stewardship in Washington, DC, and Jennifer Orgolini, Sustainability Director for the New Belgium Brewing Company in Colorado.
Karen Lee discusses the history of currency in America--from using foreign money to the digital age.
Samuel Xavier Carnegie talks about the historic theater and what it's like to be an actor here at the museum.
The U.S. Economic Development Administration is charged with building more globally competitive communities. As U.S.
Ken Kimery talks about the life of this fascinating jazz artist and jazz history here at the museum.
Archivist Alison Oswald pushes us down the history aisle in her discussion on the invention of this everyday and oftentimes overlooked invention.
SRI International began as Stanford Research Institute in 1946 and became a problem-solving pioneer in communications, robotics, personal computing, and more.
Curator Hal Wallace talks about the development of the laser, an invention that has as many practical uses as portrayals in science fiction and fantasy.
Based in Maryland, the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange works with scientists, historians, and artists to develop dances around cross-disciplinary topics. Liz Lerman compares the invention process with her own creative process, driven by improvisation, testing, collaboration, and questioning.
Curator Steven Turner discusses the work and shop of Henry Fitz, America's first commercially successful telescope manufacturer. Includes accompanying resources for classroom use.
How does an abandoned Colorado power plant become a world-class facility for energy solutions, with diverse initiatives ranging from industrial engines to clean cookstoves? Dr.
Curator Diane Wendt introduces us to one of the stranger objects in the museum's collection and gives an insight into cod liver oil and its ties to the history of brand marketing. Includes accompanying resources for classroom use.
Industrial engineering pioneers and Cheaper by the Dozen parents Frank and Lillian Gilbreth often used their home as a laboratory for experimentation. Lillian evolved in her own right as an inventor, author, industrial engineer and psychologist.
Listen as archivist Reuben Jackson discusses the Sioux City Ghosts, an African-American travelling baseball team and swing band from the 1930's. Includes accompanying resources for classroom use.
It was born in the 1880s in West Orange, New Jersey, at Thomas Edison’s state-of-the-art labs.
In this episode of the History Explorer podcast series, learn about the invention of this fascinating instrument as Exhibition Program Manager Monica Smith discusses the history of the guitar and those involved in its creation.
What do the Beatles, DuPont, and Mickey Rooney have in common? Remo Belli. After World War II, Belli moved to Los Angeles and entered into a thriving community of fellow musicians, entertainers, and entrepreneurs.