Planet Word Museum: A Museum with a Well Thought Out Visitor Experience
A gem of a museum with exceptional technology! It will spark your curiosity about words and language!
by Susan Marie Ward
Planet Word in Washington D.C. is worth a visit! It's an intriguing and well-done museum that explores words and language in ways you've not seen or heard before.
As You Enter
“Look and listen with awe to the Speaking Willow Tree! Hundreds of voices in languages from around the world speak gently from the sculptural branches. What better way to begin a trip through words and language!”
Often, museums with extensive technology have exhibits or parts of exhibits that don't' work. Elements may be broken. Lightbulbs may be burned out. Toggle switches may be worn out. But not at Planet Word! Every aspect of every exhibit worked perfectly!
The Spoken Word
This was my favorite exhibit! Not only did I enjoy it, but families, couples, and individuals all around the room were completely engaged in this exhibit. Individual stanchions surrounded a giant globe in the center of the room. At each stanchion, you could pick a language you wanted to listen to and try out. Choices included popular world languages, indigenous languages, and sign languages. With each language, you were given opportunities to try it yourself. And visitors were! All around the room, people were speaking and signing words and phrases from around the world. So fun!
Where Do Words Come From?
“The benches were full with kids sitting up front yelling out the answers!”
This 22-foot wall of words is where most visitors start their visit to Planet Word. Lights, colors, three-dimensional words, and a narrator provide insights into the origins of words in the English language. The wall displays words, asks questions, and provides answers--with many kids yelling out their suggested answers, too! "Where Do Words Come From" explores historical words from Latin as well as the assimilation into English of words from other cultures around the world.
Other exhibits include "Lend Me Your Ears" about famous speeches, "The Library" where books turn into audio visual displays, "Unlock the Music" where you can sign karaoke (and other visitors will clap and cheer you!), and "Joking Around," a room filled with opportunities to share jokes with others.
Hospitality: Well done! The museum is easy to find. Staff were available, pleasant and helpful. Restrooms were clean. Colors and graphics were visually appealing. Wayfinding--getting from one part of the museum to another--was easy with a logical flow and plenty of easy-to-find signage.
Mental Wellness: Trying new things builds one's sense of self and improves mental wellness. Planet Word provides opportunities to sing, tell a joke, write important words, create an ad, give a speech, and sing out loud. Try them all and build your mental wellness!
Surprises: Notice the original tile work on the stairways and the original glass in the windows of the 1869 building, originally the Franklin School. The blending museum design with historic preservation is to be admired.
Website: Planet Word, Washington D.C.
Don't Miss Planet Word!
Planet Word is worth a visit for anyone who lives in Washington D.C. or anyone visiting the city. Enjoy an excellent visitor experience and enhance your mental wellness as the museum boosts your sense of curiosity and wonder. Why visit museums? Because places like Planet Word exist!
Have you been?