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Cool Things Podcasts

An insider's perspective on interesting objects selected by curators at the Kansas Museum of History.

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Our Cool Things podcasts ended in 2012. Each episode features a curator talking about a different object in the collections, always an object on our Cool Things page. Just click on the "Play" button to listen. The text links take you to the online article about the featured item.

Custers Last Rally lithographTragic Endings Play
January 11, 2012

During his lifetime, many considered George Armstrong Custer an inept braggart. This was proven by his complete failure at Little Big Horn, yet heroic images of him soon appeared in American bars and saloons. Join us for a discussion of this classic image of Custer's last stand.
Running time 00:31:50

Six Degrees of William Allen White:
We connect the famous Kansas editor to Prairie Dog Town, an attraction near Oakley, Kansas.

2011 Podcasts

Alleged Coronado swordTip of the Sword Play Audio
December 28, 2011

Five hundred years ago a rich Spaniard led an army onto the North American plains, searching for a mythical city of gold. According to legend, someone on Francisco Vázquez de Coronado's expedition dropped this sword in present-day Kansas.
Behind-the-scenes: Cleaning a train with the museum staff
Six Degrees: W.A. White to Prairie Dog Town
Running time 00:31:50

Mail cart, Kansas House of RepresentativesMail Carts Play Audio
December 14, 2011

Instantaneous and digital is the preferred method of communication for modern legislative bodies. In the mid-20th century, though, the Kansas Legislature used a more utilitarian method: two wooden mail carts.
Behind-the-scenes: Our upcoming exhibit, You Are Here: Putting Kansas on the Map
Six Degrees: W.A. White to Angela Merkel
Running time 00:30:44

White glovesGloved Hands Play Audio
November 30, 2011

The difference between a beautician and a mortician is less than you might think. This episode considers white gloves worn by an African American funeral home director whose mother's beautician beginnings grew into a family-run mortuary.
Behind-the-scenes: A meeting between the Kansas Governor and tribal leaders.
Six Degrees: W.A. White to Muammar Gaddafi
Running time 00:31:04

World War I navy uniformCome Sail Away Play Audio
November 16, 2011

During World War I, soldiers stood knee-deep in mud on French battlefields while one Kansas serviceman patrolled the coast of California. Hear about the Navy uniform worn by Effingham native Joe Price.
Behind-the-scenes: Education interns talk about making classroom learning fun through museum objects.
Six Degrees: W.A. White to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Running time 00:29:00

Barber chair salesman sampleBarberism Play Audio
November 2, 2011

Barbering was big business a century ago, and required the right equipment. This segment considers a 1920s salesman sample of a barber chair that was a cut above the rest.
Behind-the-scenes:  Preview rare, early photos of Kansas settlers.
Six Degrees: W.A. White to the Brandenburg Gate
Running time 00:29:54

Hunter vestHunter Orange Play Audio
October 19, 2011

Modern hunting apparel is emblazoned with bright orange, but this mid-20th century vest isn't brightly colored. Does that mean it was open season on hunters 50 years ago?
Behind-the-scenes:  "Like" us on Facebook.
Six Degrees: W.A. White to the Brooklyn Bridge
Running time 00:29:00

Bobo's menu boardBobo Play Audio
October 5, 2011

Drive-ins were a cultural milestone in the 1950s. After food was first delivered directly to an automobile, American eating habits were never the same. This episode considers a pair of giant menu boards from Bobo's Drive-In, a Topeka favorite.
Behind-the-scenes: Our newly released children's activity book on Kansas history.
Six Degrees: W.A. White to Harley-Davidson
Running time 00:30:02

The Wiz album coverDisco Dorothy Play Audio
September 21, 2011

For many, The Wizard of Oz is a timeless story about a girl from Kansas. For others, it's an old-fashioned tale that needs to be more inclusive. This episode considers album covers from "The Wiz," a disco-era adaptation of L. Frank Baum's classic.
Behind-the-scenes:  First Lady Mary Brownback discusses the Kansas Book Festival.
Six Degrees: W.A. White to Benedict Arnold
Running time 00:31:14

Scott Brothers Popsicle displayPopsicle Play Audio
September 7, 2011

Nothing says summer like ice cream. In the 1870s, the Scott Brothers of Topeka built an empire with this popular frozen treat.
Behind-the-scenes:  Our summer intern talks about researching Civil War artifacts.
Six Degrees: W.A. White to Microsoft
Running time 00:30:06

1870s military dress jacketBlue Jacket Play Audio
August 24, 2011

The commander of Fort Hays wore this army dress jacket during the 1870s. His years of Kansas service were the culmination of a long and distinguished career.
Behind-the-scenes: Notable Kansans selected by the Governor's Blue Ribbon panel.
Six Degrees: W.A. White to the Hindenburg
Running time 00:30:24

1960s bikiniItsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Play Audio
August 10, 2011

Bikinis were the bombshell of 1960s fashion--iconic swimwear named for an atomic explosion in the Pacific Ocean. A Kansas woman wore this version while relaxing poolside.
Behind-the-scenes: The amazing lantern slides of Samuel Reader.
Six Degrees: W.A. White to Tom and Jerry
Running time 00:30:34

First Known Tornado PhotographTwisted Play Audio
July 27, 2011

Tornadoes have threatened residents of the Great Plains for centuries, but until the late 1800s most Americans had never seen one. That changed when a Kansas farmer captured the first known photograph of a tornado in 1884.
Behind-the-scenes:  Mapping out our upcoming exhibit of maps.
Six Degrees: W.A. White to the International Space Station
Running time 00:32:50

Bust of Eisenhower created by artist Peter FeltenStone-Faced Play Audio
July 13, 2011

The second floor of the Kansas capitol features a pantheon of our state's heroes in stone. In this segment we consider four small busts related to this massive installation.
Behind-the-scenes: We go outside and under the stars for the Sundown Film Festival.
Six Degrees: W.A. White to Jesse James
Running time 00:31:34

Elizabeth "Grandma" Layton paintingWrinkled Painting Play Audio
June 29, 2011

Some folks take up gardening in retirement. Not so Elizabeth "Grandma" Layton, who spent her golden years painting as a way of dealing with depression. Hear how this little old lady from Wellsville, Kansas, rocked the art world.
Behind-the-scenes:  Recently discovered footage of Kansas hippies at a Woodstock-like festival.
Six Degrees: W.A. White to Pepsi
Running time 00:31:12

Paisley shawlPaisley Shawl Play Audio
June 15, 2011

Some clothes are well-suited for travel. That's what little Elizabeth Ruppert's father discovered when he concealed her in this shawl and fled from Virginia to Kansas.
Behind-the-scenes:  Our interns build knowledge-sharing web applications for museums.
Six Degrees: W.A. White to Valhalla
Running time 00:29:28

Fragments from notorious Dalton gang.Nerd Outlaws Play Audio
June 1, 2011

Every family is a little dysfunctional, but some are downright criminal. These fragments were torn from the Dalton bothers, an infamous gang that terrorized the Midwest. Everyone wanted a piece of these notorious outlaws.
Behind-the-scenes:  Online exhibit about beer steins used during prohibition.
Six Degrees: W.A. White to the American Samoa
Running time 00:31:08

Embroidered flour sacks from WWISacked Play Audio
May 18, 2011

Belgians were starving during WWI. Luckily, Kansas farmers came to their rescue by sending over tons of wheat in flour sacks.  As a thank you, the Belgians decorated the empty sacks and sent them right back to Kansas.
Behind-the-scenes: Survey of Territorial Kansas architecture.
Six Degrees: W.A. White to the Boston Marathon
Running time 00:31:04

Bottle of Turkey Red wheat.Magic Seeds Play Audio
May 4, 2011

Every group has its origin story.  In Kansas, the legend is that Russian immigrants brought seeds from the home country (in bottles like this) and created the "Breadbasket of the World."
Behind-the-scenes:  Garden party and croquet tournament at Grinter Place State Historic Site.
Six Degrees: W.A. White to the Confederacy's Articles of Secession.
Running time 00:31:38

African American officer's saberUncivil Wars Play Audio
April 20, 2011

African American soldiers were rare during the Civil War, and black officers almost non-existent.  Thirty years later, Major John Brown from Topeka led soldiers to Cuba during the Spanish-American War using this saber.
Behind-the-scenes:  Oldest Kansas archeological artifact.
Six Degrees: W.A. White to Kate Middleton.
Running time 00:31:15

Cotton ginCottonmouth Play Audio
April 6, 2011

Some farmers hoped Kansas could bloom with cotton, bringing the South to its knees during the Civil War.  Cotton in Kansas?  That's why we have a cotton gin in our collections.
Behind-the-scenes:  Return of the Usher gown.
Six Degrees: W.A. White to Margaret Mitchell.
Running time 00:31:52

Louisburg Cider Mill apple cider.Forbidden Fruit Play Audio
March 23, 2011

Apples are the fruit of legend, from the Garden of Eden to the Trojan War.  They've got a place in Kansas history, too.  We consider bottles of apple cider pressed at the Louisburg Cider Mill in eastern Kansas.
Behind-the-scenes:  Visitors tell us what they love about Kansas.
Six Degrees: W.A. White to Lois Lane.
Running time 00:28:28

Stonemason toolsCapitol Building Play Audio
March 9, 2011

Construction of the Kansas statehouse can be considered a miracle of manpower.  In the 1880s a young Swedish immigrant was at the center of this massive building project.  Learn how he used these tools to construct the people's house before building his own.
Behind-the-scenes:  Tour the Kansas Capitol as it is undergoing restoration.
Six Degrees: W.A. White to the Blarney Castle.
Running time 00:32:06

Child's overallsWinter of Discontent Play Audio
Februay 23, 2011

Kansas history holds many harrowing storm stories, none more tragic than that of 10-year-old Dean Thomas.  His untimely death eventually led to a donation of his childhood belongings, including these overalls.
Behind-the-scenes:  The curators consider vanished artifacts from Kansas history.
Six Degrees: W.A. White to the Eiffel Tower.
Running time 00:31:12

Abernathy furnitureAbernathy Furniture Play Audio
February 9, 2011

The Abernathy brothers started small, at times relying on coffin sales, but quickly built a furniture empire on the Plains. This segment considers several pieces made by Abernathy Brothers of Leavenworth.
Behind-the-scenes:  The "slacker files," documenting the pursuit of alleged German sympathizers during World War I.
Six Degrees: W.A. White to the Epic Center.
Running time 00:30:46

Wicked drawing by Gregory MaguireBewitched Play Audio
January 26, 2011

The Wicked Witch of the West has been freaking out kids for over a century, since the appearance of L. Frank Baum's book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  Join us for a discussion of this fictional villain, while we also consider a wicked modern drawing.
Behind-the-scenes:  A few of our favorite things on the eve of Kansas' sesquicentennial
Six Degrees: W.A. White to the Burj Dubai.
Running time 00:33:16

Bottle whimsyBottle Art Play Audio
January 12, 2011

An African American man living in rural Kansas amazed family and friends with his ability to make sculptures inside bottles, embodying a form of folk art known as bottle whimsy.
Behind-the-scenes:  Planning our Kansas Day celebration.
Six Degrees: W.A. White to George Washington Carver.
Running time 00:28:06

 

Podcast Archives

Check out our award winning podcasts from previous years:

2010 Cool Things

Listed by Kansas magazine under "Reasons We Love Kansas."

2009 Cool Things

2008 Cool Things

MUSE Award Winner (Honorable Mention), American Association of Museums Media and Technology Committee

2007 Cool Things

Voted Top Ten Museum and Cultural Podcast Winner by MuseumPods.

2006 Cool Things

Voted Number One Museum Podcast by MuseumPods.