5 Absorbing Museum Podcasts
Museums are the perfect place to find great podcasts because they are already packed with amazing stories and great storytellers
Museums have been around since antiquity, curating and preserving artifacts and collections from even earlier times.
The best museums are continually reinventing themselves and frequently reinterpreting the meaning of the works they protect. In our era, museums have harnessed the power of the internet to bring their collections to a worldwide audience. And many have turned to podcasting as a means of making the many lectures and tours available to those who are not able to visit the museum in person.
Meet Hannah Hethmon
Museums in Strange Places
There are a ton of great museum podcasts with new ones coming online each week. As I began researching this post, one name kept cropping up: Hannah Hethmon. Intrigued, I spent an enjoyable afternoon getting to know Hannah online. I learned that we shared two enduring passions: Iceland, where Hannah was a Fulbright Fellow studying Icelandic and Norse history. And, of course, podcasts!
Hannah hosts and produces the popular Museums in Strange Places Podcast, in which shares her delightful exploration of the world’s museums through podcasting and also helps the world’s museums tell their own stories through the power of podcasting.
Hannah’s book Your Museum Needs a Podcast: A Step-By-Step Guide to Podcasting on a Budget for Museums, History Organizations, and Cultural Nonprofits is out this week and has already garnered lots of positive reviews from the museum community as well as podcasters from neophyte to expert. If you are interested in starting your own podcast, this is a great place to start.
I’ve written before about my love-hate relationship with museums; the pendulum has pretty much swung back to the love side, but nothing beats consulting an expert, does it? I contacted Hannah and introduced myself, and to my delight, she agreed to take over the post for a day and give us five of her own favorite museum podcasts.
Over to Hannah!
Hannah Hethmon’s Recommendations:
5 Absorbing Museum Podcasts
Great for: the commute, the tidy up, the cardio work out
Distillations by the Science History Institute
This podcast is, hands-down, my favorite show created by a museum. In each monthly episode, the enigmatic hosts take a deep dive into a moment of science-related history in order to shed light on the present. They manage to tackle a huge variety of subjects, from laws around food in Butter vs. Margarine to Amish embracing technology to treat genetic disorders in High-Tech and Amish to a biographical episode on a female scientist that history has forgotten.
Using an engaging combination of interviews with experts, historical audio, and narration from the hosts, Distillations uses history “both distant and recent“to help listeners understand the world we live in now. Currently, they are in the midst of an absolutely fascinating three-part series on the history of opioid addiction treatment. Personally, I find the American opioid epidemic to be confusing and frightening. This series dives into the history of how people became addicted in different eras and how society has dealt with people suffering from opioid addiction in different eras.
Perfect for: a long car ride
Texas Story Podcast by the Bullock Texas State History Museum
If you like podcasts that tell one story over an entire season, you will love Texas Story Podcast. In the first season, this respected Texas institution tells the story of the famous Texan and blues guitarist Stephen Ray Vaughan. But there’s a twist. It’s not just a simple audiodoc. Instead of asking an musical expert to host the show, producer Evan Windham brings the audience along on her journey of discovery as she learned about Stevie Ray’s life through interviews, research, and“of course“listening to great music. Whether you are a blues fanatic or have never listened to a blues song in your life, you’ll be entertained, informed, and inspired.
Perfect for: making you smile, laugh out loud
Raw Material by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SF MoMA)
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. This podcast takes you outside the museum on a deep dive into different mediums, movements, and influential individuals. Each season, the host changes along with the theme, giving you a new experience and a new perspective.
The theme of Season 1 iOtherworld. The episodes documents artists who work with the unknown, including rituals, hauntings, and magic. It is hosted by Bay Area artist and writer Ross Simonini.
Season 2 is themed Manifest. The episodes investigate how artists reflect and respond to the world around them and explores what is happening at the the intersections of art, community, and social justice. This is hosted by independent audio producer Geraldine Ah-Sue.
My favorite season of Raw Material so far is Season 3: Landfall. The hosts of these episodes, Jessica Placzek and Madeline Gobbo, take the listener on a road trip around the West as they explore hidden gems of California, including land-based art, immersive art environments, and even the little-known art history of Disneyland. Start from the beginning of this season with Mound, Jetties, Trails.
Perfect for: staving off boredom on public transportation
A Piece of Work by WNYC Studios and the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA)
Does some contemporary art confuse you? Do you wonder, “Why or how is this art?” This light-hearted podcast breaks down mediums like video art and installation art as well as the works of a few particularly hard-to-get artists.
This is a star-studded podcast. The host, comedian Abbi Jacobson, explores these dense topics through conversations with art educators, stars of pop culture, and other comedians. The podcast is a limited series of ten episodes, each of which stands on their own. Whether you like art or not, this show will make you smile.
Perfect for: whetting your appetite to cook!
The Kitchen Stories by the Jewish Museum and Archives of British Columbia
As the creators of The Kitchen Stories put it, “When we talk about food, we often end up talking about so much more. Family traditions, patterns of migration, gender dynamics, our relationship to the land. More than just a source of nourishment, food is a means of communication.”
In this limited-run series, the Jewish Museum and Archives of British Columbia conduct oral histories and interviews to learn first-hand what it was like to be a Jewish family living in far-flung places including Eritrea, Chile, and India. The people interviewed talk about the pressures to fit in or stand out, and how food was often a means of doing both, as well as the difficulty of maintaining family culinary traditions after migrating to a new country.
This show is a poignant look into the lives of all kinds of Jewish individuals and communities…all through the lens of food.
Hannah also Recommends:
So one of my all-time favorite museum podcasts is not created by a museum. Museums Archipelago is an independent show that explores the rocky landscape of museums. If you’ve ever wondered about the challenges museums face in creating meaningful exhibits and programs or just wanted a look behind the scenes at museums, this is the show for you.
Host Ian Elsner chats with museum professionals and volunteers around the world, from museums activists in the U.S. to preservationists in Bulgaria to the people planning the first museum on the moon. Each episode is under 15 minutes, so they are great quick-listens when you are on the go. Shameless self-promotion: I recommend checking out Episode 33: Icelandic Museums with Hannah Hethmon.
Find Museum Archipelago:
Subscribe on iTunes or other platforms.
Subscribe to receive updates as soon as a new list is published!
Pin and share this article!
Subscribe to receive updates as soon as a new list is published!
Thank you for stopping by!
Let’s stay connected!
Many thanks to Hannah Hethmon for her recommendations! I’m excited to read her book. Find out more about Hannah on her website and you can follow her on social media: Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram,
This series continues to resonate and so many of you have contacted me to say you’ve just discovered podcasts and are really enjoying them. This is great news! Do consider joining my dedicated Facebook Group, Jennifer’s Podcast Picks, where I post links to new podcasts I discover and look forward to hearing your ideas. If you enjoy communicating in this way, please do join the conversation!
What topics would you like to hear about? Are you looking for podcasts on gardening, knitting, sports, or how to do everything? Let me know!
If you would like to guest post, I’d be delighted to talk to you about that! Email me, or use the contact form at the top of this page to drop me a line.
If you haven’t already, please do subscribe to receive updates each Saturday when the new list goes up.
Below, you’ll find more information on the kind of subjects I write about — it’s an eclectic list! I’ve also included links to previous posts about travel, cuisine, history, and lifestyle topics. I hope you’ll enjoy browsing around.
This post does contain affiliate links. Any purchases you choose to make via these links will net me a small commission from the retailer. I use these funds to support the maintenance and development of this website.
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.
I hope you’ll consider staying connected with me by subscribing to receive regular updates or joining the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest!
Exploring food markets, developing recipes, and just eating was once my hobby, but now it is a full-time job. I write about food markets around the world, develop recipes, and study culinary history and emerging trends. I have a particular interest in Russian and Eastern European cuisine and culinary history.
I believe that great books are part of a life well lived and this extends to audio entertainment. Under the Lifestyle umbrella, I review books, podcasts, and audiobooks, I discuss writing and reading and am constantly on the lookout for new ways to be productive and clear all manner of clutter from my life.