museums

First Look: Go Inside the Planet Word Museum in DC

Planet Word opens Thursday in downtown D.C.

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D.C.’s newest museum is a monument dedicated to the almighty power of words and languages.

The Planet Word museum, set to open Thursday, features interactive exhibits exploring the many forms and functions of words from poetry to music to advertising.

Visitors outside will be welcomed by the Speaking Willow, an interactive sound and light sculpture in the courtyard.

When you walk under the branches of the motion activated steel tree, speakers are triggered to play speeches songs or poems in various languages.

Other exhibits cover how we learn to talk, allow visitors to make a rousing speech via teleprompter or virtually paint words on an interactive wall.

Interactive exhibits will be outfitted with stylus pens to visitors can avoid touching and keep their hands cleaner.

Photos: Inside DC's New Museum Devoted to Words, Language

"From the very beginning, you know, we had the tag line 'where language comes to life.' But we also always said, 'words matter'," said Ann Friedman, a philanthropist and museum founder.

“Words matter” is the inspiration for Friedman, who is eager to get the doors open to the newly transformed historic Franklin School at 925 13th Street NW, just off K Street NW.

"The choice of the words you use matters in building empathy and community and building bridges and, boy, don’t we need that right now," Friedman said.

“We want you to leave a visit to Planet Word being a more careful listener and speaker,” Friedman said. “If we can do that, I think that my hopes and my goals for Planet Word would have been achieved.”

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Planet Word has also partnered with a D.C. school to bring in young people and talk about language in a new way.

A virtual ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for Thursday.

It’s free to visit the museum, but you must reserve timed tickets — and they’re sold out for this weekend.

Visitors will be required to wear masks, and entry to galleries will be controlled to support social distancing, the museum said.

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