Planet Word, the world’s first museum dedicated to language and its first voice-activated museum, opened its doors to the public on October 22.
Planet Word founder and CEO Ann Friedman hosted a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony, which included appearances by mayor of Washington, DC Muriel Bowser, former president Barack Obama, singer-songwriter Paul Simon, fashion designer Diane von Fürstenberg, and former mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg. The ceremony also featured recitations by spoken word artist Charity Blackwell and poet Naomi Shihab Nye and performances by hip-hop artist and multi-instrumentalist Christylez Bacon and opera singer Renée Fleming.
In her closing remarks, Friedman said, “If Planet Word was an idea whose time had come in 2013, it is even more relevant and central to conversations about who we are as humans in 2020, which is one reason that, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic to opening anything to the public right now, I wanted to move ahead and open before the election if it could be done safely.” To minimize the risk of COVID transmission, Planet Word is limiting capacity to support social distancing, distributing stylus pens for use with exhibit screens, and requiring visitors to wear a face covering at all times. Future programming at Planet Word includes a weekly workshop called We Love Word Games, in which participants will have the opportunity to explore word games and word puzzles.
The museum will also host a monthly program called DIVERCITIES, in which participants will explore the relationship between language and city.
The first installment of DIVERCITIES, entitled “Street Art around the World,” will feature conversations with muralists and graffiti artists from Mexico City, Berlin, and Kabul. The second installment, entitled “The Universal Language of Comedy,” will feature a panel discussion with comedians from Los Angeles, Dallas, and Kigali.
To learn more about Planet Word, visit https://planetwordmuseum.org/.