Discover how language continuously shapes our lives at DC’s latest museum.
Planet Word, DC’s newest museum, is finally opening its doors to the public. Originally meant to open earlier in May, has announced it will finally open on October 22. Housed in the old Franklin School building, the spot from which Graham Bell made the first transmission from his photophone, the museum seeks to bring words to life with new, interactive experiences that will immerse you in a didactic sea of words and sounds.
“During the coronavirus pandemic, our focus has remained on the health and safety of our employees, contractors, and future visitors,” said CEO and founder, Ann Friedman, in a press release. “We’ve continued the work of designing immersive and interactive galleries, curating content to feature in our exhibits, and revitalizing the historic Franklin School, with deference to guidance from public health officials.”
The museum also launched virtual programming during the pandemic including conversations between artists, musicians, and poets from DC and countries around the world. These can still be accessed online if you’d like to get a taste of DC’s new museum before it opens later in the Fall.
From the café’s menu to the bathroom walls, the museum promises unexpected and surprising interactive exhibits and you best expect them to be. At Planet world you’ll be allowed to create your own marketing campaign, try your hand at karaoke, watch yourself deliver MLK’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech, and take classes in songwriting, storytelling, maybe even sign language.
You’ll also get to participate in cutting-edge research at their language lab, talk to professional linguists and learn about unique languages such as Hawaiian, Zulu, Navajo and Iranian sign language. And if poetry is more your kind of scene, why not get lost in their quiet room while immersing yourself in some of the world’s greatest poems?
The museum also features a 20-feet-tall “Speaking Willow.” The giant sound sculpture, designed by artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, features 500 hanging speakers containing an archive of recordings in different languages that are triggered by passers-by. Placed on the museum’s first floor, it will “set the tone for what to expect at Planet Word, where surprising ways to interact with language will await at every turn.”
Planet Word will be opening on a limited basis and implementing new safety protocols. Although general admission is still free, visitors will have to register in advance for timed tickets. Masks will of course be required and social distancing measures will be strictly enforced. For its interactive exhibits, the museum will also provide stylus pens so visitors won’t have to touch surfaces.
[Featured image: @planetworddc, Instagram]