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The Object Podcast

Exploring the strange and wonderful true stories behind museum objects.

The Case of the Missing Rembrandt
In 1666, Rembrandt painted a masterpiece that disappeared almost as soon as he finished it. Where it went, and what it meant to its various owners, is as fascinating as the question it begs: how can people be so tender and also so cruel?

The Truth About “White” Classical Art
He was the ideal man. Handsome, strapping, with unreal proportions. But ancient statues like the Doryphoros originally looked much different, a revelation that is slowly upending long-held assumptions about race and art in the classical world. And not a moment too soon to confront the dangerous claims of white supremacists. You can read more about the Doryphoros statue here. And read more here about the scholars cited in this episode, who are confronting the abuse of antiquity by hate groups: bit.ly/2YRG5GZ

Flying Too Close to the Sun
Kehinde Wiley, long before he painted President Obama’s official portrait, went to Brazil. There, he was inspired by a monument to the great aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, whose incredible, tragic life is as forgotten in the United States as it is celebrated almost everywhere else. He created the mesmerizing painting Santos Dumont – The Father of Aviation II, now in Mia’s collection, based a curiously anguished aspect of the monument.

The Car That Killed Nazis
When World War II began, nothing seemed capable of slowing the Nazis. Except a very fast, very unusual Czech automobile called the Tatra. A poignant story of poetic justice, grace in wartime, and the utopian future that wasn’t. You can read more about the Tatra in Mia’s collection.

How to Stop an Assassin
Long ago, when everyone but your dog was a potential assassin, you needed to protect yourself by any means necessary. Starting with poison-proof silverware. A surprising story of art, myth, and the dangerous world that was. You can read more about the coral-topped silverware in Mia’s collection.

X-ray Man and the Great Mummy Mystery
An assistant curator decides to x-ray a 3,000-year-old mummy case, to learn if anything’s in there, and sees more than he bargained for. The international mystery would change his life — and the fate of the mummy.

The Indian Artist Who Wasn’t
When the frontier closed, the fate of Native Americans seemed sealed. But George Morrison, born into poverty near a reservation on Lake Superior, was as determined to be an artist as he was to avoid stereotypes.

The Woman Who Knew Everything
Miriam McHugh Taney was well-educated, well-traveled, and well-known among museum-goers, lecturing on everything from the Italian Renaissance to American furniture—a rare authority for a woman in the 1930s. But the real purpose of her popular museum talks was even more interesting.

The Fellowship of Good Things
There were wolves and caribou on the Minnesota frontier when John Scott Bradstreet arrived with his white suits and Far East fantasies of furniture, determined to elevate this outpost with fine interior design. A globalist mission on a collision course with history.

After founding General Mills, the food and flour giant, James Ford Bell turned to preserving the America he knew and loved. A vision that was fast disappearing in the stampede of mass immigration — and may never have existed at all.

She was wealthy, single, and always in the right place at the right time. But when Lily Place was in Egypt during the discovery of King Tut’s tomb, her art collecting suddenly put her at the epicenter of a curious and powerful trend that was about to shape world history one last time. You can see the objects from Lily still in Mia’s collection here.

Everyone Loves Shiva
In the 1920s, a dancing god of destruction suddenly becomes a museum must-have, setting off a scramble in the jungles of India. The global interest promises to bring East and West together, but can it last? You can see the Dancing Shiva in Mia’s collection here.