Planet Word, a nonprofit museum whose mission is to promote the fun and power of language, will open its doors on Oct. 22. Located in DC’s historic Franklin School, It’s also the world’s first voice-activated museum.
“I am so thrilled to open Planet Word’s doors to the public and cannot imagine a more fitting time for a museum of language to open in our nation’s capital,” said founder and CEO Ann Friedman, in a recent statement. “Democracy depends on literate citizens, [and] I hope that Planet Word can provide a forum for civil discourse and a place where our community, in all its vibrant diversity, can gather to share the words that bridge differences and forge solutions.”
She goes on to add that while all of the exhibits are cool, particularly noteworthy are the 22-foot-tall interactive word call called Where Do Words Come From? as well as the Speaking Willow tree. The latter is an interactive art installation in the courtyard by renowned contemporary artist Rafael Lozano–his first permanent installation in DC. “The metal sculpture, resembling a weeping willow, plays voice recordings from hundreds of different languages as visitors pass underneath its branches,” explained Friedman. “The interactive sound-and-light sculpture features 364 individual speakers and 3.6 miles of ethernet cable and was commissioned by Ann and Tom Friedman in partnership with New York’s Public Art Fund.”
Other exhibits examine the process of babies and toddlers picking up a native language and let visitors deliver a famous speech using a teleprompter, sing karaoke and even paint with words. The gift shop appeals to avid wordsmiths with games, puzzles, cards and other word-themed items and souvenirs.
Planet Word is located at 925 13th St. NW and will be open Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is free, with a suggested donation to support programming, exhibits and educational outreach. The museum will be limiting capacity to support social distancing and encourages visitors to reserve timed passes online in advance of their visit; there will be a limited number of tickets available for walk-ups on a first-come, first-served basis. Masks will be mandatory for everyone over the age of two, access to galleries will be controlled, stylus pens will be available at exhibits to avoid the need to touch surfaces and hand sanitizing stations are located throughout the building. For more information visit their website.
For more news like this, subscribe to our Things to Do newsletter.