New language museum had its inaugural opening in D.C.

Planet Word opened its doors through a virtual ceremony on Oct. 22

New language museum had its inaugural opening in D.C.

The Planet Word Museum Building in D.C.

Planet Word, a museum entirely dedicated to language is located in the building formerly known as the Franklin School, held its virtual inaugural opening ceremony on Oct. 22.

“This museum, much like Washington, D.C., is all about celebrating art, creativity and innovation,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said during her speech. “We are honored and excited to welcome Planet Word to downtown, and I look forward to visiting.” 

Former President Barack Obama also spoke during the ceremony, which was live streamed on YouTube. Obama focused on how reading and words impacted his life. 

“In many ways I lived in Planet Word,” Obama said. “I loved reading as a kid. Reading was full of portable worlds that were mine, worlds that I could enter into. Reading and writing made me who I am.” 

The museum has multiple galleries, such as the Speaking Willow Tree, First Words and Where Do Words Come From? Speaking Willow, a 20-foot tree with 500 hanging speakers, is the first thing visitors will see upon entering the museum. When visitors walk underneath a speaker, it will play words in a distinct language.

“What I like about working with the metaphor of the tree is the idea that languages are very different, they’re unique but also very interconnected,” said Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, the artist who created the Speaking Willow exhibit. “To me, working at Planet Word is celebrating the diversity of these languages.”

Local D.C. artist Christylez Bacon gave freestyle rap performance with an acoustic guitar and beatboxing during the inaugural ceremony. He sustained his beatboxing for a few minutes until he finally delivered lyrics.

The museum's founder, Ann Friedman, concluded the ceremony by thanking everyone behind the scenes who helped her make the museum possible. However, Friedman’s central focus was the impact words have on people. 

“The words you use can inspire and motivate,” Friedman said. “I had no idea that, by the time this museum was ready to open, that our country would be so focused on, even obsessed by, words and language.” 

After her remarks, she cut the ribbon outside Planet Word’s main entrance to truly mark the inaugural opening of the museum with tons of applause in the background. 

Free tickets for entry can be reserved on the museum’s website.

trecchio@theeagleonline.com

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