Sound choices: 16 podcasts to bring the Museum to your home
Every year the Museum attracts millions of curious visitors eager to learn about the natural world.
Bring that curiosity home, and learn more about natural history, science, and the world around you with these great podcasts.
Availability of each podcast or episode can vary between apps so visit the website of the podcast you're interested in to find out where you can listen.
What is it about? Stuff You Missed in History Class covers all the things you probably should know but have forgotten. From American history to scientific discoveries, this podcast refreshes your memory in a simple, entertaining way. Episodes are released at least once a week.
Which episode to start with? Mary Anning. Learn about Museum favourite and famous palaeontologist Mary Anning in 25 minutes. Aired March 5 2012, repeated September 2018.
What is it about? This podcast is presented by Aaron Mahke and guides you through the weirder side of history. Episodes are released every other Monday.
Which episode to start with? Episode 127 – Tipping the scales. This episode looks at the spooky side of museum collections, specifically mummy curses in pop culture. Aired 21 October 2019.
What is it about? Everything. The long-running radio show has been discussing historical subjects for over 15 years. Presented by Melvyn Bragg with well-known academics speaking on their specialist subject, In Our Time puts you in the centre of the latest debates.
Which episode to start with? With hundreds of episodes, it is hard to pick, but it must be dinosaurs. Episodes are released every Thursday. Aired 16 April 2020.
What is it about? Laugh and learn in this weekly podcast, where the writers of QI present their favourite facts. From the Victorian craze for ferns to Roman toilets – no topic is too odd. Episodes are released every Friday.
Which episode to start with? Episode 156 – No such thing as a limited edition. It has Museum entomologist Dr Erica McAlister as a guest star. Aired 17 March 2017.
What is it about? Before museums there were curiosity cabinets where unusual objects were put on show. This podcast displays two unusual tales from history, twice a week. At just 10 minutes an episode, Cabinet of Curiosities is ideal for those short on time (or short on attention span).
Which episode to start with? Episode 179 – Monkeying around. It covers Oliver the 'humanzee' and America's Project X-Ray, which planned to use bats to drop bombs. Aired 20 March 2020.
What is it about? The original virtual museum, this long-running comedy podcast invites guests to donate an object of their choice to a virtual museum. Anything can be donated, and the only limit is the imagination of the guests.
Which episode to start with? Series 14, episode six – A swarm of fruit flies, a bionic arm and the feeling you get when an animal trusts you are all donated. This episode shows the diversity of the collection at its best. Aired 12 November 2019.
What is it about? Fascinated by something oddly specific? There is an oology for that. Alie Ward's funny podcast combines science with obsession, interviewing professional 'ologists' about their obsessions. From zoology to philematology (that's kissing), there will be a topic to grab your interest. Episodes are released every Tuesday.
Which episode to start with? Plumology – the study of feathers. Aired 31 March 2020.
What is it about? All the best programming and podcasts on natural history, in one place. From planet puffin to bone stories, the sheer variety of topics will keep you hooked.
Which episode to start with? Continuing the fondness for misfit animals, the natural histories episode on the aye-aye is a great starting point. Aired 29 November 2019.
What is it about? BBC Earth mixes sounds, storytelling, nature, and science to inspire listeners. From animals to space, the three series of half-hour episodes are guaranteed to teach you something new about the world we live in.
Which episode to start with? The Museum has a soft spot for ugly animals, so beauty in nature is a must. This episode uncovers animals that do not fit traditional beauty standards and asks the question – who decides what's beautiful anyway? Aired 4 April 2019.
What is it about? Be a fly on the wall as a celebrity takes their friend, relative or whoever they fancy for a visit to one of the UK's museums or galleries. Learn behind-the-scenes information about that museum while the guest discusses art, life, and every topic imaginable.
Which episode to start with? Russell Kane at Whitworth combines comedy and wholesomeness, as he takes his aunt to Manchester's Whitworth Gallery. Aired 7 January 2020.
What is it about? Another BBC podcast, this one examines the histories of artefacts and landmarks which have been destroyed or looted. The series ran from 2016 to 2017, but all episodes are still available online.
Which episode to start with? The winged bull of Nineveh. It tells the story of the 2,700-year-old statue, its purpose in Nineveh and how it came to be destroyed. Aired 29 March 2016.
What is it about? Visit the UK's finest English Heritage properties without leaving your home. Each episode ties a topic to a place – Carlisle Castle and Mary Queen of Scots for example – and interviews members of staff at the site about its unique history.
Which episode to start with? Episode 52 – Power and influence: the remarkable women who changed history. This episode sees senior properties historian Dr Megan Leyland and collections curator Olivia Fryman discuss the women in history that inspire them. Emma Darwin is one of the women featured. Aired 26 March 2020.
What is it about? Professor Jim Al-Khalil talks to scientists about their lives and current research projects. Get inspired by living scientists who are working to change the future in the now.
Which episode to start with? Another episode featuring Museum entomologist Dr Erica McAlister, this one uncovers the beauty of flies. Aired 16 April 2019.
What is it about? BatChat is the Bat Conservation Trust's podcast, and is aimed at members, the bat conservation community and bat lovers everywhere. Episodes are released every other Wednesday.
Which episode to start with? The two-part episode recorded live from the Museum, of course. Aired 22 January 2020.
What is it about? While some of these podcasts may be suitable for children (parent advisory required), Everything Under the Sun is written for children to answer some of the endless questions asked by kids. New episodes are released every Friday.
Which episode to start with? Episode 47 – Why are plants green? How much bamboo can a giant panda eat? Is Dippy the Diplodocus a boy or a girl? This Museum-focussed episode answers three different questions asked by children. Aired 13 December 2019.
What is it about? The editors of PopScience created this podcast to share the oddest science facts they learn each week. Whatever the weirdest thing you learnt that week, this podcast is likely to top it. New episodes are released every Wednesday.
Which episode to start with? 40,000 vanishing pigeons, artificial hips and the science of poodle haircuts. Aired 13 March 2019.
What is it about? Get Birding is a new podcast hosted by Dr Mya-Rose Craig. It helps budding bird-watchers everywhere learn about the birds on their doorstep. It's the perfect mix of naturral history, music, and birds.
Which episode to start with? There's only a handful of episodes out at the moment, so start at the beginning and go from there.
The Museum is closed but our work continues
As a charity we need your help. With our doors closed, we're losing vital income. We're doing everything we can to continue to connect people to nature by bringing the Museum to you through inspiring stories and educational activities.
So if you could help us with a donation - no matter the size - we'd greatly appreciate it. Thank you.