Words are powerful. They can help, hurt, support, clash and comfort.
And if you’ve ever contemplated just how much of an influence those words have on your daily life, a new museum coming to Washington, DC could be just the place to dig a little deeper.
Opening on Sunday, May 31, Planet Word Museum is a technology-driven museum that allows visitors to explore the world of etymology (the study of word origins) and language arts. It will feature exhibits that welcome readers and speakers of all ages and levels, covering more than 55 international languages and challenging visitors to “joke, sing, speak, read and write,” according to the website.
Guests can expect to interact with written and spoken words in a variety of ways throughout the museum. One exhibit features a multicolored LED globe that responds to 30 languages and two different kinds of sign language, where guests will be invited to speak in their native languages and watch the globe show the origin of their dialect and more information.
In another exhibit, guests will be encouraged to speak as words light up on a 41-foot-wide wall, and information on the word’s origins is provided. Guests can also get artistic with their words, “painting” digital scenes based on a word they choose, and explore exhibits inspired by well-loved books and more.
There will even be a one-of-a-kind art installation in the entryway of the museum known as “Speaking Willow.” The 20-foot willow tree is designed by artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, and when guests walk under the tree, 500 hanging speakers will trigger to play immersive audio recordings in distinct languages.
Further in the future, expect a full schedule of live entertainers such as spoken word poets, novelists and classes on songwriting, storytelling and sign language (just to name a few). And, according to the website, if you happen to need a snack, grab a Gutenburger (affectionately named after Johannes Gutenberg of the printing press) or a bowl of alphabet soup.
Planet Word was incorporated as the Museum of Language Arts in 2013, with the goal of bringing a language-inspired museum to the nation’s capital. The museum has since found its home in the Franklin School on the corner of 13th and K Streets, in the same building where Alexander Graham Bell succeeded in transmitting a “photophone” message in 1880.
Once the museum opens to the public at the end of May, find out if you’ll be the visitor holding on to every last word. // Planet Word Museum: 1300 I Street NW, Suite 400E, Washington, DC
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