About Us

Planet Word is the only museum in the country dedicated to renewing and inspiring a love of words and language. Located in the historic Franklin School on the corner of 13th and K Streets in downtown D.C., Planet Word opened in 2020 as a new kind of interactive and self-guided museum. Using the museum’s state-of-the-art technology, visitors determine their experience through their own words and choices. Planet Word is a bold and imaginative response to the life-long importance of literacy and to the challenge of growing a love of language.

Planet Word is a private, non-government museum, supported primarily by the generosity of our donors.

Mission, Vision & Core Values

Our Mission

Language is what makes us human. From earliest childhood, we weave our words into speech to communicate. Yet the appreciation of words, language, and literacy is rapidly declining. At Planet Word, we inspire and renew a love of words, language, and reading through unique, immersive learning experiences for all ages and provide a space to explore words and language that is grounded in a solid understanding of language arts and science.

Our Vision

Planet Word’s vision is to increase literacy, the foundation of a strong modern democracy.

Six Core Values

At Planet Word, we strive to make the museum experience:

  • FUN
    Planet Word offers unique, participatory, changing, and innovative experiences with language and words.
    Planet Word engages participants in physical, social, and cognitive play to increase understanding of language.
    Spontaneous learning takes place around every corner.
    Planet Word builds confidence and encourages a lifelong interest in words and language.
    Planet Word strives to have a measurable impact on literacy outcomes.
    Planet Word strengthens community by celebrating and valuing all types of linguistic diversity.

Where it all began

Ann B. Friedman had just retired from teaching first grade reading when the idea of Planet Word struck her.

Reading about the Museum of Mathematics in New York City, she learned how it used hands-on activities to make math fun. If there’s a museum for math, she thought, why not a museum for words?

Just like the museum for math celebrates math, words in their endlessly evolving variety should be celebrated, too. Whether signed, spoken, written, or sung, language connects us and shapes our most significant moments. Our words and language reflect who we are, how we interact with others, and how we interpret our world.

There should be a place to explore the power, fun, and beauty of words, she decided. And, since such a place didn’t yet exist, she set out to bring her vision to life.

Planet Word was born.

Our Purpose

Literacy matters

Today, first-rate literacy skills are essential. The strength of a democracy depends upon a literate population to understand and address complex issues of the day.

But in the U.S., literacy trends are moving in the wrong direction. Too many adult Americans can’t read at a functional level; most students continue to fall far short of proficiency in reading; and our political discussions too frequently descend into diatribe — not dialogue.

32 million

adults in the U.S. can’t read.


of 4th graders couldn’t read at a basic level on national tests in 2022.

Our Approach

We show — we don’t tell

That means we explore how language is used, rather than dictate how it should be used. Linguists would call us a “descriptive” rather than a “prescriptive” museum.

We won’t tell you what’s right and wrong. We’re just here to celebrate the power, fun, and beauty of language!

Committed to the community

As a museum for the entire community, we’re collaborating with partners who share our core belief that literacy is the foundation of a strong democracy.

Our partners serve children and adults with low literacy, people without access to educational resources, and those experiencing homelessness.

Together, we’re working to ensure that Planet Word is a welcoming place, serving a diverse audience, and making a difference in the life of the community.

  • Did you know?

    Perhaps ironically, the word “sesquipedalophobia” means “the fear of long words.”
  • Did you know?

    “Contronyms” are words that contain multiple meanings that are complete opposites of each other. For example, “oversight” means both “the action of overseeing something” and “a failure to notice something.”
  • Did you know?

    There are over 7,000 languages worldwide, but more than half the world’s population speaks only 23 of these languages.
  • Did you know?

    The first entirely artificial language was the Lingua Ignota, a private mystical cant recorded in the 12th century by St. Hildegard of Bingen.
  • Did you know?

    The 10 most-used letters in English are E, A, R, I, O, T, N, S, L, and C.
  • Did you know?

    Eels, llamas, and aardvarks, ooh my! In English, there are only four letters that appear as double letters at the beginning of a word: A, E, L, and O.
  • Did you know?

    A “deipnosophist” is a person who’s really good at making conversation at the dinner table.
  • How do you get a dog to stop eating your books?

    Take the words right out of its mouth!
  • What's the difference between a cat and a comma?

    A cat has claws at the end of its paws, but a comma’s a pause at the end of a clause.
  • The past, the present, and the future walk into a bar...

    It was tense.
  • Is there a word that uses all the vowels including y?

  • Riddle me this

    What did the intransitive verb say when told it was pretty? (Answer: Nothing. Intransitive verbs can’t take complements.)
  • Riddle me this

    What does an island and the letter T have in common? (Answer: They’re both in the middle of water.)
  • Riddle me this

    What word becomes shorter when you add two letters to it? (Answer: Short)
  • Riddle me this

    What starts with an E, ends with an E, and contains just one letter? (Answer: An envelope!)
  • Riddle me this

    What begins with a T, ends with a T, and has T in it? (Answer: A teapot!)
  • Riddle me this

    What’s in centuries, hours, and years, but not minutes, days, or seconds? (Answer: The letter R!)
  • Quote them on it

    “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” — Groucho Marx
  • Quote them on it

    “The past is always tense, the future perfect.” — Zadie Smith
  • Quote them on it

    “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.” — Toni Morrison
  • Quote them on it

    “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies...The man who never reads lives only once.” — George R.R. Martin
  • Quote them on it

    “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” — Nelson Mandela