(WASHINGTON, DC) – Mayor Bowser today celebrated the start of a renovation that will transform the historic Franklin School into Planet Word – a museum dedicated to the power and fun of words and language. The Mayor was joined by Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans and Planet Word Founder and CEO Ann Friedman.
“Given the Franklin School’s historic role as a place of learning and exploration, it is fitting that Planet Word will continue using the space in such a unique way to promote creativity and knowledge,” said Mayor Bowser. “This one-of-a-kind museum will fit right into the culture and fabric of the District and we are proud to be part of this exciting project.”
Delivering on the Bowser Administration’s commitment to the creative economy, the proposed development will transform the historic space at 13th and K Streets, NW into an interactive language arts museum and education space. The Franklin School, a National Historic Landmark built in 1869, was selected to house Planet Word in large part for its historic connection to the museum’s mission. It was at Franklin School that Alexander Graham Bell made the first wireless transmission of the human voice – words – using a photophone in 1880.
“Planet Word is right fit for Franklin School’s second life – the building was meant to be a place for the arts,” said Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Brian Kenner. “It will welcome visitors for years to come and become a part of our city’s rich cultural landscape.”
The new museum will expand upon the usable space in the Franklin School building, creating a fourth floor under the soaring mansard roof, with a roof terrace overlooking Franklin Square, and by utilizing below grade space behind the school. The project will create a grand total of nearly 15,000 square feet of exhibit space; an 1,800-square-foot, state-of-the-art auditorium; a 2,500 square foot restaurant; and 1,500 square feet in classroom space. The over $35 million development is projected to generate 60 new full-time jobs and welcome nearly 150,000 visitors annually.
“There’s never been a museum showcasing the fun and power and beauty of words and language, even though we’re all word collectors from the day we’re born. They are the overlooked and under-appreciated artifacts of our lives. Planet Word will change all that,” said Friedman. “We’re excited to bring Planet Word to the Franklin Square neighborhood, and to be a part of the rebirth of this corner of the city. And we’re delighted to have been chosen to renovate the Franklin School as a home for Planet Word. This glorious, historic building will now get a new lease on life for another 150 years.”