As more museums embrace new technologies and seek ways to expand their audiences, some have ventured into the world of podcasting. Museum-created podcasts bring museums to your ears without the limits of the physical space.
Museeum features museums around the world that engage the senses. We hope these encourage you to travel and visit as many of these sites as you can. However, the increasing amount of museum podcasts offer opportunities to sample museum collections and experiences no matter where you are. From curator talks to guided meditations, here is a sample of some of the best podcasts created by museums.
The British Museum Membercast by the British Museum
You may have to be a member of the British Museum to attend some of their exclusive programs, but this podcast offers a preview for free for anyone in the world. These include a range of curatorial talks on many topics. Where else can you learn both why Egyptian portraits includes hieroglyphs and how to say “I love my rabbit” in Bulgarian, other than the British Museum?
AMplify by Australian Museum
The Australian Museum’s Director and CEO, Kim McKay, hosts this podcast that sits down with museum staff and researchers to examine the museum’s collections. The topics discussed are as varied as the museum’s collections. The podcast also offers conversations with staff and how they got involved with museum work and some fascinating insights about the history of the museum itself.
Smithsonian Museums by Smithsonian Institution
Although included in a single entry here, it should be remarked that all of the Smithsonian Institution podcasts may deserve a full entry and are definitely worth listening to. As the world’s largest museum complex (with 19 museums, a zoo and 9 research centers) it is not surprising that the Smithsonian Institution also boasts a plethora of podcasts as well. Hoping to get a behind-the-scenes look with curators and artists? I suggest listening to Face-to-Face with the National Portrait Gallery or maybe the Hirshorn podcast. Do you think you might enjoy nerding out over the latest in air and space topics including witty banter? Then, check out AirSpace from the National Air and Space Museum, just launched in January 2018. The podcast SideDoor covers a variety of topics, just in case you can’t make up your mind. There are also plenty of series covering local stories and oral histories.
Mindfulness Meditation by the Rubin Museum of Art
New York City’s Rubin Museum of Art not only exhibits art from the Himalayan region, but according to their website also “provides immersive experiences that encourage personal discoveries and spark new ways of seeing the world… emphasizing cross-cultural connections, the Rubin is a space to contemplate ideas that extend across history and span human cultures.” This mission is supported by their exhibitions, events and their Mindfulness Meditation podcast. This podcast is a recording of the weekly guided meditation sessions held at the museum. Featuring a variety of meditation teachers from New York, each week explores a different theme stemming from artwork on display.
The Concert by Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Classical music lovers can rejoice with this podcast. The Isabella Stewart Garner Museum in Boston, USA, regularly hosts musical programs that complement their collections. The Concert compiles recordings of these performances. These free recordings offer a way to experience this music introduced with some history around the pieces and composers.
Hangs by University of Queensland Art Museum
This Australian museum moved away from curator talks and recorded museum programs. Instead, they bring in two people for each episode to walk through one of the museum’s exhibitions and record their discussion and interactions. It certainly offers a unique perspective and feels more conversational than some of the other podcasts mentioned here. You will feel yourself wanting to check out some of the artwork discussed and want to join in with the conversations.
Kitchen Stories by Jewish Museum and Archives of British Columbia
This podcast delves into the complex history of food and what is means both personally and within a community. Food, and the preparation of it, can communicate many things. Kitchen Stories uses both Vancouver’s reputation as a “foodie” town and pulls from their archives and community to reflect upon questions like: what does food represent, what does Jewish food mean and what does it mean in Vancouver?
NHMLA Talks by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Many American museums participate in First Friday traditions, where they might offer free admission or host special events on the first Friday evenings of every month. At the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, these special evenings are recorded and published. Each month, they host a variety of speakers. This results in a podcast that provides expert and entertaining talks on topics ranging from food studies to climate change to fossils to sports history. Did you know approximately 1,500 Olympians live in Southern California? Fun tidbits to randomly bring up at parties such as this will flood your ears for one hour every month with this podcast. Speakers offer both a global perspective and interesting insights on Los Angeles history and culture.
This is just a sample of the variety of podcasts now created by museums. Podcasts are offering a new way for museums to reach beyond their borders and engage people around the world. Just as there are many types of museums and a variety of programs that they offer, these podcasts feature a wide range of topics and experiences. With podcasts, online collections, and digital exhibitions, museums are opening up to wider audiences. In one afternoon, you can easily indulge in classical music from a gallery in Boston, learn about the uniqueness of koalas from Australian experts, and finish with a guided meditation inspired by Himalayan art. Some podcasts also offer an intriguing look behind-the-scenes at museums. For those interested in discovering new museums and intriguing content, give some of these podcasts a listen. I also encourage you to see if some of your favorite museums already offer a podcast or other similar offering.