There’s a new museum in town. Planet Word and it’s all about… you guessed it. The written word. You might be wondering what a new museum has to do with cocktails and cupcakes. Read more, as they say.
There are perks to living so close to Washington, DC. Especially, when you want to spend a day/night away from home but don’t really have the time or energy to go anywhere. It was with this mindset that we managed to celebrate a milestone birthday, in a beautiful city, without actually going anywhere further than 15 miles from home.
A Foodies City
Washington, DC is a foodies city. Restaurants abound on nearly every city block. During the summer months many of the streets in downtown had a single lane of traffic closed to accommodate outdoor dining during this time of Covid-19. Will we ever again be without this pandemic? It is tiresome, isn’t it? #Vaccinate. But, I digress.
Looking for a relaxing eatery to enjoy a celebratory lunch we decided on Olive and Fig and it did not disappoint. While the interior offers an atmosphere of a comfortable living room, the outdoor dining is adjacent to an open air plaza. We could breathe the fresh air, watch the children hopping through the water spouts at the nearby fountain, and savor a delicious meal. After lunch we indulged ourselves with a cup of Haagen-Dasz before heading to the new museum in town, Planet Word.
A Multitude of Museums
If you’ve been to Washington, DC you already know it’s home to a multitude of museums. Most everyone knows of the Smithsonian Museums, all of which offer free admission. So, maybe the question comes to mind, does the city really need another museum? Yes. One thousand times yes, would be our answer. We are firm believers that as a society we cannot move forward if we do not understand how far we’ve come. History has a tendency to repeat itself. Museums teach us valuable lessons. Museums also offer wonderful opportunities to not only learn, but to engage. Planet Word scores big on both counts.
Ann B. Friedman
Ann B. Friedman, a retired first grade teacher and philanthropist is the source of inspiration behind Planet Word. She is founder and CEO. Her goal was (is) to make people aware of not only the origin of words, but also the power of words. And, really, couldn’t we all use a few more lessons on the power of words?
The Franklin School
Located at 13th and K Streets, the 150-year-old historic Franklin School is home to the museum. Ms. Friedman gleaned a 99-year lease from the City of Washington, DC along with the approval to bring the long-neglected empty school building back to life. At $35 million, Ms. Friedman personally covered all costs of the project. The Franklin School was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1996 and it is once again a home to learning; teaching children and adults alike, the power of words.
Although visitors are asked if they’d like to make a donation, the museum is actually free to all. Visitors are encouraged to start on the 3rd floor and work their way down. Each gallery in the museum is unique and interactive. There is a library where books magically read aloud, and there is even a secret passageway to poetry. Who doesn’t love a secret passageway?
How do we learn to speak? Where does language come from? How many languages are there? These are just a few of the initiating questions which serve to engage the visitor. Technology meets language. It’s really quite something.
Two of our favorite exhibits were the Joking Around Room where the written word conveys cheesy jokes. You can’t help but laugh. Another favorite was Word Worlds, which was something we’d never before experienced. It’s a little tricky to explain, but the surrounding walls have images on screens. Visitors choose a brush associated with a specific word and virtually paint the screens. The stroke of the brush transforms the images to match the word of each brush. I found the painted word, surreal, to be fascinating. We were so caught up in the moment we forgot to take pictures. That’s not such a bad thing though.
The Power of Words
We became instant fans of Planet Word and look forward to a return visit. At first glance the exhibits may seem to be just about having fun with words, which it is. But, if visitors look deeper, read, listen and even sing, there’s much to be learned about the power of words.
The Word Wall
Cocktails & Cupcakes
With our heads swimming in a sea of words, we sauntered back to our lovely hotel room at the Conrad Hilton Washington, DC. But first, we found our way to the 3rd floor lounge where we enjoyed cocktails with a view. There was also a lively conversation with our server about how to grill an olive. I think you had to be there to find the humor, but grilled olives were served with humus. I, of course, wanted to know how one goes about actually grilling an olive.
Long time members of Hilton’s points program, we cashed in on a reward night. And, guess what was waiting for us in our room. That’s right, cupcakes! Thereby answering your initial question of what does a new museum have to do with cocktails and cupcakes.
If you go:
- Planet Word is located at 925 13th Street NW
- Entrance on K Street
- Hours are Thursday – Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- Last entrance at 3:30 p.m.
- Free admission – donations accepted
- Nearby Metro Stations at McPherson Square and Metro Center
- Gift shop, (does not accept cash) lockers and restrooms on 1st floor
- Food and drink are not allowed