An interactive museum dedicated to language is opening in Washington DC


March 1, 2024

From the 31 May 2020 onwards, Washington will be home to a new museum, Planet Word, that will be entirely dedicated to language and words.

Through 11 unique immersive galleries, the museum will emphasize the power of words to visitors – one room allowing people to paint pictures with words and another testing people on famous speeches and marketing pitches.

There will even be a specific place for poetry, where lines will appear and fade on the walls. Foreign languages will also have an importance, as The Spoken Word, a 12-foot-tall globe, will be a special place to learn culturally specific words and phrases, offering 30 languages (and two types of sign language) to choose from and explore.

The Speaking Willow, a 20-foot-tall tree sculpture designed by Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, will also be a fun element to see in the museum, as it will project bits of famous poems and speeches in many different languages to visitors passing underneath it.


“We’ve got surprises galore waiting for visitors in the heart of Washington, D.C.,” says founder Ann Friedman regarding the museum’s interactive and voice-activated exhibits. “Through these one-of-a-kind experiences, visitors to Planet Word will thrill to the fun and beauty and power of words all around them.”

It will also have an auditorium, classrooms, a restaurant and gift shop – and the best part is that this new and fantastic museum will be entirely free!

Built on the old Franklin School, which is symbolic as it is one of the first public schools to offer free universal education, the museum’s construction has been costing more than $25 million (approximately £19 million).

“I’m happy this building is going to live again,” Friedman said. “It’s going to attract people, whether they are interested in words and language or not, because they haven’t been able to get inside for a decade.”

According to the museum’s website, they also want to promote literacy, as it is in difficulty in the United States.

“Literacy is the essential gateway to early school success, high school graduation, participation in the global economy and citizenship,” says Ralph R. Smith, Managing Director for Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

But it seems the museum will be dedicated to even more than reading, writing, and speaking in a fun and informal setting, it “will be nothing less than a bold attempt to capture and share the magic.”