Eighteen art and museum podcasts in no particular order that are worth listening to if you are into museums.
Group Show by 12ø
Group Show is a five episode podcast series by Caitlin Merrett King covering topics like work, collaboration and criticism. The podcast was conceived of as part of 12ø's S/S17 curatorial residency as an exploration into expanded curatorial practice. Each episode includes a mixture of interviews, sound commissions and regular features covering artist-led activity around the UK. An audio interpretation of the busy, messy, exciting squishing together that happens in group shows.
Artists and Friends
Artists and Friends is a podcast started by artists Sid and Jim for reviews of exhibitions, interviews and ideas
It’s often awkward to ask friends about their financial situation, but Australian artist Honor Eastly is not afraid. More interested in her guest’s hustle than their practice, Starving Artist features young (Australian) professionals talking frankly about money—how much they make, how they file their taxes, and how they plan for the future. In an enlightening episode with i-D editor Wendy Syfret, the two discuss negotiating a raise and determining your “value” in a field that is often underpaid and overworked. The podcast is worth checking out—whether you’re a recent grad looking to enter the job market or a young professional trying to navigate your next career move.
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.
The Conversation: Art Podcast
The Conversation is true to its title, as artist Michael Shaw spends an hour (or sometimes two) spitballing with artists, curators, dealers, and collectors. Shaw isn’t afraid to delve deep, touching on not just the high-points, but also the plateaus and more controversial moments in his guests’ careers. The Conversation attempts to peel back the curtain on the elusive inner-workings of the art world by staging honest discussions that are anything but stodgy.
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 Modern Art Notes Podcast
Modern Art Notes isn’t dedicated solely to modernism, but they do tend to feature older, more established artists and curators who are on the heels of an insitutional exhibition. Tyler Green, an art historian and critic, traces through the guest’s entire biography, attempting to cover every important body of work in the process. The show is extremely informative, each episode acting more like a catalog essay than a typical Q&A. The Wall Street Journal once remarked, “You won’t find a better-informed art writer than Tyler Green,” and the podcast definitely showcases his encyclopedic knowledge and skillful way with words.
Bad At Sports
Bad At Sports is a freewheeling podcast that offers “contemporary art talk without the ego.” The interviews sound like friends catching up over a beer or two—casual and fun but not afraid to meander. For instance, Caroline Wells Chandler talks about being mistaken for an employee at Jo-Ann’s Fabrics while shopping for materials. Based in Chicago, Bad At Sports has been producing episodes for over a decade—giving them a hefty backlog for a new listener to rifle through.
First Fridays Science Discussion Series
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.
The British Museum Podcast
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.
National Gallery of Art Notable Lectures
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.
The Museum of Lost Objects
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.
Possibly one of the better-known podcasts about the art market. Each episode is a conversation between Adam Green and an invited speaker. The conversations are usually about the art market or new art companies. Definitely, one to listen to if you are into art and business.
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.
With only two episodes in, Art Party is a podcast to keep an eye on. ARTnews co-executive editor Andrew Russeth and Interstate Projects co-director Jamie Sterns started the show last month, and cover newsworthy happenings in the art world. They intersperse the reportage with their own strong opinions—Sterns’ take often containing a few more profanities than Russeth's. Similar to Bad At Sports, Art Party is relaxed, hilarious and unabashed. “If you love us, then love us,” Sterns says in the first episode, “If you don’t…I don’t care either.”
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.
Stuff You Missed in History Class
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.
Stuff You Should Know
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.