About us

Mission & Values

Our Mission

Planet Word will inspire and renew a love of words, language, and reading in people of all ages. Through unique, immersive learning experiences, we provide a space to explore words and language that is grounded in a solid understanding of language arts and science.

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.
  • PLAYFUL
    Planet Word engages participants in physical, social, and cognitive play to increase understanding of language.
  • UNEXPECTED
    Spontaneous learning takes place around every corner.
  • MOTIVATIONAL
    Planet Word builds confidence and encourages a lifelong interest in words and language.
  • MEANINGFUL
    Planet Word strives to have a measurable impact on literacy outcomes.
  • INCLUSIVE
    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; students are falling behind in reading skills; and our political discussions too frequently descend into diatribe — not dialogue.

32 million

adults in the U.S. can’t read.

34%

of 4th graders couldn’t read at a basic level on national tests in 2019.

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?

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

    A “deipnosophist” is a person who’s really good at making conversation at the dinner table.
  • 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.”
  • 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.
  • Did you know?

    A “deipnosophist” is a person who’s really good at making conversation at the dinner table.
  • 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

    "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