Planet Word: The World’s First Voice-Activated Museum

Ann B. Friedman

Founder and CEO, Planet Word

Planet Word Museum

925 13th St., NW Washington, D.C. 20005 United States

Museums and the Web Awards 2021 / Interactive and Immersive Gold



The World’s First Voice-Activated Museum



Planet Word’s mission is to renew and inspire a love of words, language, and reading out of the belief that a strong democracy is founded on a literate society. To achieve that mission, we designed the world’s first voice-activated museum. Its unique, participatory experiences use cutting-edge technology – such as voice-activation, motion sensors, RFID chips, animation, and multiple projectors – to bring language vividly to life.


Planet Word’s galleries expose visitors to important ideas about early childhood language acquisition, the diversity of the world’s languages, etymology, songwriting, oratory, poetry, humor writing, copywriting, and storytelling. Its social, surprising, non-linear experiences entrance visitors of all ages, interests, and backgrounds. In addition to its ten main galleries, the museum offers an array of voice-activated digital stations covering word-related topics such as forensic linguistics, dialect, product-naming, news literacy and words that wound. Taking a descriptive, rather than prescriptive curatorial approach, visitors are encouraged to use their words to talk to the exhibits.

Planet Word is housed in the newly restored Franklin School, a National Historic Landmark built in 1869, as a co-ed public school in Washington, D.C. Every spare surface is devoted to some aspect of words and language, from the tiles in the restrooms to our lobby floor inlaid with symbols showing the history of writing to our lockers numbered with the International Phonetic Alphabet.

Words spill out wherever you step foot at Planet Word, and visitor use their voice and choice to determine their own unique, joyful experience at the museum.




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