There are plenty of museums that revolve around visual art — now words are finally getting their due. An interactive museum dedicated to words and language is opening on October 22, 2020, in Washington, DC. Planet Word is designed to educate visitors about language, with exhibits focusing on the spoken, sung, and written word. The 51,000-square-foot space is located inside the historic Franklin School in the heart of DC.
The museum features ten exhibits and galleries dedicated to words and language. It bills itself as the world’s first voice-activated institution of its kind, incorporating the technology into nearly every room.
One room features an immersive experience called “Where Do Words Come From?” where guests can learn the history of the English-language vocabulary via a 41-foot-wide interactive wall covered in words. As guests speak, the wall lights up and tells the stories of how various words came to be.
In the school’s great hall, the largest room in the building, a multicolored LED globe hangs from the ceiling and is programmed to respond to 30 languages and two kinds of sign language. Language ambassadors will encourage guests to speak a few words in their native tongues, and the globe will react accordingly.
Other highlights include a room with interactive walls, where patrons can dip high-tech paint brushes into “word palettes” and, depending on the word, paint a different scene.
In a slightly less educational vein, there’s also karaoke, and the opportunity to recite famous speeches from the likes of JFK and Martin Luther King, Jr.
The museum also aims to be a contributing member of the community by offering “Wordshops” in its classrooms, and performances, author readings, and community discussions in its auditorium.