Stories from the Vaults

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Smithsonian Channel Premiered Sep 01, 2007 In Season

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  • Clips (6)
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  • Season 1 (8)
  • 2000 Miles Behind the Scenes

    Clip

    4/17/13

    On Barro Colorado Island in the Panama Canal, Smithsonian researchers set the gold standard for tropical fieldwork.
  • Sex on the Beach

    Clip

    2/6/13

    Fiddler crabs in Panama care more about safety than claw size when choosing a mate.
  • What's Behind the Nations Socks?

    Clip

    2/6/13

    At the National Condom Collection, Smithsonian curators trace the history of contraception from intestines to latex.
  • Coffee Break

    Clip

    11/19/12

    Coffee - it's a staple of American life, and inside the vaults of the National Museum of American History, they know the secret to its wide spread success: packaging.
  • Cooking with the Smithsonian

    Clip

    11/19/12

    Look out, Tom's in the kitchen and he's cooking with gas.
  • A Krispy Kreme Dream Machine

    Clip

    11/19/12

    What's the secret to a perfectly round Krispy Kreme doughnut?
  • Villains and Rogues

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 7 - 8/24/09

    The Smithsonian is sometimes mistaken for a "Hall of Fame," a pantheon for heroic characters and noble accomplishments. But the historians and researchers here study everyone: heroes and villains, the famous and the infamous. Join host Tom Cavanagh (from TV's "Ed") as we explore the crime "scene" at the Smithsonian's Vaults: photographic evidence from the Crime of the Century; everyone's favorite natural villain, the snake; and America's first "Lone Gunman": John Wilkes Booth.moreless
  • Sex 101

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 6 - 8/16/09

    The Smithsonian's exhibits might have a reputation for being a little dry sometimes, but the prestigious museum's vaults hide surprisingly R-rated artifacts and tales. Host Tom Cavanagh invites viewers behind the scenes to view the unexpectedly raunchy stories, saucy artwork and provocative items that contribute to the Smithsonian's secret history.moreless
  • Going Going Gone

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 5 - 8/10/09

    Little parts of our world disappear every day, and it's the job of any museum to preserve ideas and artifacts against the tide of time. Well, the curators and scientists at the Smithsonian take that project very seriously indeed - some might say they're a little obsessed. Join Tom Cavanagh for a look at what might be called "extreme conservation": the extraordinary efforts and discoveries of Smithsonian curators to preserve ideas, art works, even entire animal species, so that they'll continue to inspire for generations to come. We'll meet some of the rarest & most endangered animals in the world, including Przewalski's Horse and the clouded leopard, we'll face the problem of restoring art that was designed to fall apart, and then we'll hear fragments of a Bach concerto much as Johann Sebastian himself might have heard it as he sat down to play at his harpsichord.moreless
  • Crystal Ball

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 4 - 8/3/09

    Some people read palms. Some read fortune cookies. At the Smithsonian, they do it with toothpaste tubes. Surrounded by the world's largest collection of landmark discoveries and world-changing innovations, researchers and scientists here are always looking for new ways to see into the future. Join host Tom Cavanagh for a trip in fast forward, as we explore some of the ways that science imitates ESP. Travel to New York's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum for a look at the ways that the design of products we use every day is changing how we imagine tomorrow. Then head down to Panama City for a sneak peek at the museum of the future, the Frank Gehry-designed Museum of Biodiversity, which aims to turn the myriad ways that climate change is affecting the world's plant, animal, and human life into a living experience. Now that's forward thinking!moreless
  • Nature's Vault

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 3 - 7/27/09

    Some of the Smithsonian's coolest treasures are found thousands of miles from Washington DC and they don't stay put under glass. Fly south with host Tom Cavanagh as he travels to the jungles of Panama to track wild sloths with Smithsonian biologists. Then he takes a 17-story ride on a construction crane high into the rainforest canopy to check out the local bugs' life, followed by a geology field trip with scientist Tony Coates, who offers up some remarkable insight into the Panamanian Isthmus, its formation, its far-reaching effects on global climate, and of course the right way to pronounce "isthmus." It's all in a day's work at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute here in Panama, where scientists and researchers brave the sultry heat to produce world-class research and discoveries about evolution, climate change and the powerful forces that shape our planet.moreless
  • Top Secret

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 2 - 7/20/09

    Words like "classified" and "top secret" are as ingrained in Washington DC culture as "celebutante" and "tummy tuck" are in Hollywood. But not many people connect the Smithsonian with secrets & spies. Until now. Join host Tom Cavanagh in a thrilling peek at some of the hidden codes, strange symbols, and bizarre mysteries hidden in the world's most renowned museum complex. We'll meet a sculptor who encrypted a message so puzzling into his sculpture for CIA Headquarters in Langley that even today, 20 years later, the Agency's top cryptographers haven't been able to crack the code. The Post Office has its share of secrets, too, and we go to the National Postal Museum to learn about the hush-hush shipment of the Hope Diamond, as well as a truly odd Cold War program for sending secret messages by guided missile.moreless
  • Let's Eat

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 1 - 7/13/09

    Food is much more than just stuff we like to eat. It's the cornerstone of who we are, building communities, driving industries, and sustaining our health and well-being. But what does the Smithsonian have to do with food? Join host Tom Cavanagh behind the scenes as he cooks Native American dishes with the executive chef of the National Museum of the American Indian's Mitsitam Cafe. Experience the American coffee break with our friends at the National Museum of American History, then visit the National Museum of Dentistry to learn exactly how that cuppa joe and a doughnut takes a toll on our teeth.moreless
  • Random

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 7 - 11/19/07

    Host Tom Cavanagh dives into the very heart of the world’s largest museum complex amidst more than 136 million objects. With such an incredible variety of things to see, any single artifact could seem out of place, but there's nothing haphazard about the systematic collections at the Smithsonian. Tom visits the National Zoo and the National Museum of American History, showing us that breadth certainly doesn’t equal randomness.moreless
  • Life After Death

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 6 - 11/12/07

    Host Tom Cavanagh explores evidence of life after death. The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, the National Museum of Natural History, and the National Postal Museum all hold clues to the afterlife deep inside their vaults.moreless
  • Firsts

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 5 - 11/5/07

    Host Tom Cavanagh enters the vaults of the National Museum of American History and the National Air and Space Museum in search of earth-shattering firsts. From a new collection of vintage planes to the very first videogame (hint: it wasn’t Pong), Tom discovers what it takes to claim the title of Number One.moreless
  • Beauty

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 4 - 9/24/07

    Host Tom Cavanagh explores the many faces of beauty through the eyes of scientists. Three Smithsonian curators offer their surprising perspectives on the elusive meaning of true beauty as it applies to their work with advertising, orchids, and ants. Beauty isn’t just in the eye of the beholder.moreless
  • No Place Like Home

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 3 - 9/17/07

    Host Tom Cavanagh tries to unravel the idea of "Home Sweet Home." He visits the National Air and Space Museum’s collection of space suits, learns about Native American tipis at the National Museum of the American Indian, and finds an astonishing array of life in a thimble of sand.moreless
  • Superlatives

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 2 - 9/10/07

    Tom is on a mission: to discover what it means to be the best, the tiniest, the coldest, and the most misunderstood. He explores the art of taxidermy at the National Museum of Natural History, the music of a three-hundred-year-old Stradivarius at the National Museum of American History, and unique technology that scrunches the Bible onto one tiny microchip.moreless
  • Laughter in the Vault

    Clip

    8/24/12

    "Phyllis Diller was the first American woman to have a successful career as a stand-up comic, and the secrets to her success are now a part of the National Museum of American History\'s collection.moreless
  • Famous Donors

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 1 - 9/3/07

    Host Tom Cavanagh tries to unravel the idea of "Home Sweet Home." He visits the National Air and Space Museum’s collection of space suits, learns about Native American tipis at the National Museum of the American Indian, and finds an astonishing array of life in a thimble of sand.moreless
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