Planet Word

Coordinates: 38°54′04″N 77°01′48″W / 38.90103°N 77.03001°W / 38.90103; -77.03001
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Planet Word
EstablishedOctober 21, 2020
Location925 13th St, NW Washington, DC, US
Coordinates38°54′04″N 77°01′48″W / 38.90103°N 77.03001°W / 38.90103; -77.03001
TypeLanguage museum
Executive directorPatty Isacson Sabee

Planet Word is a language arts museum that opened in Washington, DC, in October 2020.[1] The museum is described as "The museum where language comes to life" and features interactive exhibits dedicated to topics such as the history of the English Language, how children learn words, languages around the world, humor, poetry, and how music and advertising use words.[1] It is located in the historic Franklin School building, designed by Adolf Cluss, located on Franklin Square at 13th and K Street.[2]

The museum was created by Ann B. Friedman, a philanthropist and former reading teacher who is married to New York Times opinion columnist Tom Friedman.[3]

Initial building renovation began in 2017. In 2018, work on the project was stopped after it was discovered that DC and US federal preservation rules were violated in the demolition of the building's interior.[4] A "minimal" fine was paid, work on the project continued, and the museum opened on October 22, 2020.[5][6][7]

Each exhibit focuses on a different aspect of spoken and/or signed language, with an emphasis on allowing visitors to speak or sign, manipulate, and interact with concepts.[8] This ranges from an elaborate interactive room-sized globe to playful poetry written on bathroom walls.[9][10]

Speaking Willow, an interactive, motion-detecting tree sculpture, is an exhibit created by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer that whispers to visitors in hundreds of different languages as they enter the museum.[11] This interactive sculpture was delivered by Public Art Fund in collaboration of art foundry, UAP.[12]

Other notable exhibits within the museum include First Words, Where Do Words Come From?, and The Spoken Word.[13] In March 2022, Planet Word opened Lexicon Lane, a permanent exhibit where visitors can solve language-related “cases”.[14] Located on the third floor of the museum, the exhibit is set up to look like a small village, within which visitors have an hour to solve a mystery by figuring out the answers to language-related puzzles and riddles.[15]

Cintas Corporation selected Planet Word as a finalist for the 2021 America’s Best Restroom Contest.[16][17]

In May 2022, the North American School Scrabble Championship was held live at Planet Word. Walden Giezentanner, a seventh grader, and sixth grader Nathaniel Campos were winners.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Home". Planet Word Museum. Retrieved November 1, 2020.
  2. ^ O'Connell, Jonathan (January 25, 2017). "Philanthropist Ann Friedman picked to turn D.C.'s Franklin School into 'Planet Word.'". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  3. ^ Capps, Kriston (January 26, 2017). "Word Up! D.C. Will Get a Museum of Linguistics". CityLab.
  4. ^ Thebault, Reis (August 30, 2018). "Construction has damaged interior of historic Franklin School, preservationists say". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on August 30, 2018.
  5. ^ Kennicott, Philip (October 21, 2020). "Planet Word, a new museum devoted to language, is a high-tech, feel-good experience". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on October 22, 2020.
  6. ^ "D.C.'s Newest Museum, Planet Word, Opens To The Public". PR Newswire (Press release). Planet Word Museum. Retrieved November 21, 2021.
  7. ^ McGlone, Peggy (October 21, 2020). "Planet Word, a high-tech museum dedicated to the love of language, opens in D.C." The Washington Post. Archived from the original on October 22, 2020. Retrieved November 21, 2021.
  8. ^ Hallett, Vicky (October 21, 2020). "Planet Word, a new D.C. museum, explores the landscape of language". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved July 27, 2022.
  9. ^ "The Spoken World — Gallery Preview!". Planet Word Museum. July 25, 2019. Retrieved July 27, 2022.
  10. ^ "Restrooms at Planet Word in DC ranked among America's finest". WTTG. September 21, 2021. Retrieved November 21, 2021.
  11. ^ Dingfelder, Sadie (March 13, 2019). "A giant, whispering 'tree' is coming to downtown D.C." The Washington Post. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  12. ^ "Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Speaking Willow". Public Art Fund. Retrieved January 27, 2021.
  13. ^ "Exhibits". Planet Word Museum. Retrieved November 1, 2020.
  14. ^ Amlen, Deb (March 29, 2022). "Planet Word Survived the Pandemic to Inspire a Love of Language". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 27, 2022.
  15. ^ "Lexicon Lane". Planet Word Museum. Retrieved July 27, 2022.
  16. ^ "Cintas Selects the 2021 America's Best Restroom® Contest Finalists". Cintas Best Restroom. July 19, 2021. Retrieved June 1, 2022.
  17. ^ Vogt, Bailey (August 6, 2021). "Planet Word Bathrooms Nominated for America's Best Restroom". Washington City Paper. Retrieved June 1, 2022.
  18. ^ Mowers, Jaime (May 30, 2022). "SCRABBLE". WKTimes LLC. Retrieved June 1, 2022.

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