Category Archives: Exhibit

Explore the Power — & Magic! — of Language at Planet Word

 

Planet Word is sure to get people talking.  The museum dedicated to language recently opened in downtown DC with a mission to “inspire and renew a love of words, language, and reading in people of all ages.”  And with three levels full of interactive and immersive exhibits that engage, educate, entertain, and delight, they easily achieve that goal.

It’s a museum that can be enjoyed by all ages, but older kids probably will get more out of it than younger children, having more grammar lessons under their belts and generally better comprehension.  Owen and Sasha, 14 and 11, were great ages for it — and older teens and adults will love it, too. (In fact, I’d rank it among my favorites museums in DC!)

Listen up under the Speaking Willow

The exploration of language begins before you even enter the building.  In the courtyard next to the entrance is the Speaking Willow, a ingenious art installation designed to look like a tree, its branches dangling 500 speakers that play recordings in different languages as you walk beneath.  It’s a fantastic preview of the word and language focused fun — and magic — that awaits.

Inside, the Planet Word experience begins on the third level and flows down, taking visitors through multiple exhibits on every floor, each of them highlighting different aspects of language in creative and interactive ways.  It starts with First Words, a short video about how we first learn language as babies, a cute and fitting way to begin.

Greetings from the wall of words

Audience participation encouraged

But that’s just a warm-up for the grand introduction:  Where Do Words Come From.  Featuring a lofty wall of words that tells the story of the English language, this exhibit combines impressive state-of-the art technology, clever narration, and  some interactive fun — microphones set up in front of benches let visitors have their say, too!  The installation is complemented by graphs that illustrate the evolution of language, plus touch screens that test your knowledge, too. (Note: The museum provides stylus pens, so you don’t have to touch screens with your fingers.)

Interactive word play

Explore languages across the globe in The Spoken World

That leads to The Spoken World, a large room with a giant disco ball globe as its centerpiece with voice-activated and touchscreen kiosks placed all around it.  Here, you can listen to people from around the world speak their language and talk about what makes it unique.  You’re encouraged to speak some words, too!  This exhibit also includes more interactives along one wall, giving guests a chance to delve further into diverse languages.

Do you know?

 

A first look at the library

In a museum all about language and words, books are sure to be showcased, and that happens when you hit the second floor and enter the glorious library.  The sight of it will get you first. Lined with floor-to-ceiling wood shelves and a mirror on the ceiling, it’s a magnificent space.  But it’s what the library contains that makes it so extraordinary.  And this is where my write-up gets tricky… do I reveal the details that make it so magical, or let readers discover it themselves?  Let’s just say that books come to life in fantastic ways, and you’re in for quite a treat!

Magic awaits here

A peek into a picture

Painting with words

There’s more magic nearby that I will share:  Word Worlds lets you “paint” with words.  Dip your brush into “autumn” then run it along the wall and watch it turn into deep red and orange hues, or try “surreal” to see odd shapes and swirls.

A “surreal” scene

Watch notable speeches…

…and recite one

The rest of the exhibits on the second floor don’t include magical elements, but they let you share your charm.  After you learn what makes a memorable speech, you can recite one of your own. Find out why some jokes work and some fall flat, then test them out in a Joking Around game.  And, because words help make songs, there’s a music-focused exhibit, too — with karaoke!  (Of course, we took advantage.)

Easy to keep a straight face in the joke games 😉

Get your karaoke on

Back on the first floor you will be sold on words in an exhibit all about advertising and how language is used to make things sell.  Walk through an interactive whirl, check out ads new and old, and play games on the way.

A whirl of ad insight

Fun with Wordplay

From there, enter the Words Matter room, where you can share your own story, express yourself in a word, and enjoy a few more interactives.  Here — and in all parts of the museum, for that matter — don’t miss the words on the walls, in the doorways, even on ceilings.  You’ll see quotes from renowned writers along with phrases that have become fixtures in our vernacular.

Any guesses which is mine?

Outside voices are encouraged as you make your way through Planet Word, whether you’re interacting with elements in the exhibits, reading quotes on walls, or just expressing yourself. Some other good things to know:
* There is metered parking along nearby streets and a parking garage right next to the museum on 13th St.
* McPherson Square (Blue/Orange & Silver) and Metro Center (Red) are the closest Metro stations.
* Free lockers on the first floor let you store coats and belongings.
* As mentioned above, the museum provides stylus pens, so you don’t have to touch screens.
* Other safety precautions, like hand sanitizing stations and social distancing guides, are in place.
* You can take an elevator or stairs to access different floors.
* Tickets are free, and need to be reserved in advance, but a limited number of walk-up tickets are also available on the half hour.

 

In case it’s not evident, I highly recommend visiting Planet Word — and making it a priority.  This does take some planning. Free passes are available on a rolling, 30-day basis, which means you need to know the date you’d like to visit, and reserve tickets 30 days ahead. Of course, if you have an open schedule, you can check any day and reserve a time slot a month away.

I can assure you, it’s worth the wait.

Planet Word is located at 925 13th Street NW in Downtown DC. Hours are 10am – 5pm, Thursday through Saturday. Admission is free, but a donation is suggested.

 

Museum with karaoke?  Count us in!

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2020, All ages, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Indoor Play, Museums, Ongoing, Weekdays, Weekend

A Blue-Hued Escape into Crystalline at ARTECHOUSE

 

ARTECHOUSE debuted their latest exhibition at the Southwest DC gallery last week, and it’s one to feel blue about — in a very good way.  Crystalline is inspired by many things, among them Pantone’s color of the year, Classic Blue, and this unprecedented pandemic year.

The exhibit’s explorations of the color connect it with earth and crystals and presents that through large scale digital images on the walls of the main gallery and smaller ones in side areas.  Just about all of it is interactive, as the images change with viewers’ motions, moving elements as you walk around or evolving into more detailed pictures as you step closer.

Blue also plays a role beyond the individual installations.  As ARTECHOUSE puts it, blue “brings a sense of peace and tranquility to the human spirit.”  The exhibit is intended to serve not just as entertainment, but as a refuge for visitors during this turbulent time.

 

And immersing into the depths of blue, even just for a little while, is a beautiful — and fun — escape from the bizarre Covid world outside.

Crystalline is running at ARTECOUSE through January 3, 2021.  Tickets are $19-24/adult, $12-15/child, $17-20/students, seniors, military & first responders (the lower price for online advance tickets, higher at the door).  Children under 4 are free.

ARTECHOUSE is taking extra measures to ensure safety in response to Covid.  Capacity is limited, guests must wear masks,  directional signage helps social distancing, there are hand sanitizing stations, and cleaning and disinfecting takes place hourly.  More details are available here.

 

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2020, 2021, All ages, Art, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Exhibit, Fall, Indoor Play, Reopened, Social Distancing, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

The Weekend Round-Up: October 16-18

Just practicing some Tik Tok moves on the trail at Patapsco Valley State Park

 

Happy Weekend!

Out and About
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

With great fall weather in the forecast and social distancing a priority, you may want to enjoy some adventures outside. The round-up of The Best Places in the DC Area to Enjoy a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids has ideas galore for doing just that.  If you’re looking specifically for family hikes, check out these walks in the woods.

Soul Strolls
Where: Congressional Cemetery | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Friday & Saturday
Admission: $25/adult, $12/child

Trespass into the past and discover the secrets of some of Congressional Cemetery’s “residents.” Soul Strolls, the Cemetery’s annual twilight tours, explore the stories of individuals buried there through guided tours and costumed interpreters. Experience the history of this hallowed ground exactly the way it should be experienced in October — in twilight and darkness, happening upon vignettes and individuals under the guidance of one of the “Dozen Decent Docents.” Hour-long tours depart every 15 minutes. Beer, wine, and cider tickets will be for sale on-site to enjoy a drink before your tour, plus there will be  a bar located along the tour route to redeem your drink tickets for a refresher.

Spooktacular Drive-In Flicks
Where: Akridge Lot at Buzzard Point | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: Friday
Admission: $20/vehicle

Grab your popcorn and join the Capitol Riverfront BID for a drive-in movie at the Akridge Lot (First and V St. SW) in Buzzard Point next to Audi Field.  The movie is a fun, contact-free experience for all ages with space for 75 vehicles set at an appropriate social distance.  Frankenstein & Dracula  is the spooktacular flick being screened this weekend. Proceeds will be donated to DC Central Kitchen.

Drive-In “Spooky” Movie Nights
Where: DC Party Box | Rockville, MD
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
Admission: $15/adult, $10/13 & under

Enjoy Sppoktacular theater at this drive-in, featuring an LED screen, FM broadcasting, and spooky surprises. There are two showings each night, a family-friendly film at 7pm and a classic or scary movie 10pm. This weekend it’s Scoob and Sixth Sense on Friday, Hocus Pocus and The Shining on Saturday, and The Addams Family and Nightmare on Elm Street on Sunday. Reserve in advance online, one reservation per car.

More Wicked Fun
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

There are even more ways to get the Halloween party started that also allow for social distancing. See what’s coming up  around the area and access virtual activities from some of your favorite places. This annual post has details on where to find the tricks and treats.

Art Safari
Where: Online
When: Saturday
Admission: Free

An Alexandria tradition for 25 years, Art Safari is moving online in 2020. On Saturday, professional artists will lead a series of creative hands-on projects via Facebook Live with sessions running 11am – 4pm. Other recorded sessions will be posted throughout the day via Facebook videos and will be archived on the Torpedo Factory website for later viewing.

Crystalline
Where: ARTECHOUSE | Southwest DC
When: Through
Admission: $12-17/child, $19-24/adult

To wrap up this unprecedented year, ARTECHOUSE has transformed their gallery into a blue-hued haven intended to evoke calm and peace during a turbulent time. Submerge in the sights, sounds, and sensations and discover creative curiosities as you interact with the digital art.

The Great Pumpkin Experience
Where: Ballston Quarter | Ballston, VA
When: Saturday & Sunday, 12-5pm
Admission: Free

Pumpkin spice things up with festive, fall fun! Watch local artist, Natalie Rogers, create custom painted pumpkins and have an opportunity to support R.E.A.D. and the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation. Capture memorable photo ops with larger than life, hand-painted pumpkins and take home a DIY pumpkin painting kit with a qualifying purchase of $75, while supplies last.

Fall, Y’all!
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Celebrate the season at an area festival. From pumpkin patches and apple picking to corn mazes and hayrides, there are still traditional activities to enjoy in safe ways. This post has details on where all the fall fun is happening.

Autumn off the Farm
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

Farm festivals may be the go-to autumn outing, but there are lots of other fantastic ways to enjoy the season around the area. This KFDC post lists a bunch of great places for fall adventures.

Kids Euro Festival
Where: Online
When: Though November 29
Admission: Free

International travel may not be possible right now, but you can still enjoy European adventures. The annual Kids Euro Festival is going digital this year, offering families all over the world access to an extended virtual festival with a full 6 weeks of online programming — all of it free. From October 17 – November 29, tune in for performances, concerts, workshops, movies, storytelling, puppetry, dance, and more.  Create your own Finland with Minecraft, do some pumpkin carving with Cypress, bake baguettes with France, and see what other Euro activities are available.

Fun at Fairfax Parks
Where: Parks around Fairfax County, VA
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

The Fairfax County Park Authority hosts all kinds of events on weekends for guests of all ages. Volunteer with kids age 12 and up for a watershed clean-up at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park. Pick, learn about, and decorate pumpkins at Sully Historic Site. Check out a woodcarving demonstration at Colvin Run Mill. Details and registration for these and more nature activities this weekend and beyond are available here.

Monuments: Creative Forces
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: Through October 25
Admission: $5-30

This unique outdoor art installation throughout Strathmore’s 16 acres sounds like an ideal exhibition for COVID times, being in fresh air with a lot of space.  Monuments: Creative Forces by Australian artist Craig Walsh features moving, dimensional video portraits of artists whose work and artistic endeavors are changing the shape of our community in profound ways. The expansive portraits of these creative heroes were chosen by a diverse panel of community and arts leaders  are projected on to towering trees, transforming them into animated sculptural monuments.

Go with the Flow
Where: Waterways around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

It doesn’t have to be summer to enjoy some recreation on the water. In fact, paddling our local rivers and lakes is a great way to do some leaf peeping and have some active fun. Boating in DC is still offering rentals as are a couple of other area places. Find details for them all here.

The Great Indoors
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

There are some great ways to enjoy getting out with out being outside.  A lot of indoor places have reopened with extra precautions to ensure safety during COVID. This post has details on where you can hang out inside, and this one has suggestions especially for little kids.

N Street Village SHERO Walk
Where: Online
When: Saturday
Admission: Donation

Join this annual walk, taking place virtually this year, to benefit N Street Village, the city’s largest provider of housing and services for women experiencing homelessness. Also, checkout their toolkit for families and kids to help discuss issues like poverty, food insecurity, and homelessness.

Even More Activities
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

If you want even more ideas for things to do over the weekend, this post has plenty of inspo, listing both ongoing activities around the area as well as information on reopenings.

***MORE GOOD STUFF***
* Check out a new KFDC write-up about Sky Meadows State Park.
* The Hyattsville Zombie Run is a virtual race from October 17-30 benefitting schools.
* The giveaway for a chance to win a complimentary subscription box from Time 4 Mom is still running!
* A Halloween treat for adults — if you like horror movies, anyway:  The movie Host on Shudder.  (You can sign up for a free trial of the channel.)
* How to Throw Yourself a Middle-Age Reveal Party is the funniest (and all too relatable) thing I’ve read all week.

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2020, All ages, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Exhibit, Fall, Maryland, Outdoor, Seasonal, Social Distancing, Special Event, Virginia, Weekend

Inside Info: Indoor Places Open During COVID

Social distancing indoors at the National Gallery of Art

 

 

More and more indoor places around the DC area are figuring out how to safely open their doors to visitors again. I’ve been to a couple of Smithsonian museums and felt very comfortable and safe with the extra measures taken for COVID — and was very happy to wander the galleries and enjoy art in person once again.  As weather gets colder and our itch for outings that aren’t outdoors grows, having some go-to indoor spots will be appreciated by many.  (But, of course, everyone should do what they’re comfortable with during this unusual and uncertain time!)  Here’s a handy list of them, and I’ll continually add to it as more places reopen.  Happy revisiting!

[Note:  As of November 21, 2020, the National Gallery of Art has closed, and all Smithsonian museums are closing on November 23, 2020 due to rising Covid-19 rates. ]

DC

National Gallery of Art (CLOSED)
When: Daily, 11am – 4pm
Where: 6th Street & Constitution Ave NW | National Mall
Admission: Free with timed entry passes.
COVID policies

National Museum of African American History and Culture (CLOSED)
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 11am – 4pm
Where: 1400 Constitution Ave NW | National Mall
Admission: Free with timed-entry passes
COVID policies

National Portrait Gallery & American Art Museum (CLOSED)
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 11:30am – 7pm
Where: 8th & G Streets NW | Penn Quarter
Admission: Free with timed-entry passes
COVID policies

Renwick Gallery (CLOSED)
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 5:30pm
Where: Pennsylvania Ave at 17th Street NW | Downtown DC
Admission: Free, no passes required
COVID policies

National Museum of American History (CLOSED)
When: Friday – Tuesday, 11am – 4pm
Where: 1300 Constitution Avenue NW | National Mall
Admission: Free with timed-entry passes
COVID policies

National Museum of the American Indian (CLOSED)
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 11am – 4pm
Where: 4th Street & Independence Avenue SW | National Mall
Admission: Free with timed-entry passes
COVID policies

International Spy Museum
When: Daily, 10m – 6pm
Where: 700 L’Enfant Plaza SW | Southwest DC
Admission: $24.95/ adult, $16.95/age 7-12, free/6 & under | purchase online
COVID policies

ARTECHOUSE
When: Monday – Thursday, 12-8pm & Friday – Sunday, 10am – 10pm
Where: 1238 Maryland Ave SW | Southwest DC
Admission: $24/adult, $20/senior & first responder, $17/age 4-14, free/under 4 (purchase online for $5 off)
COVID policies

National Museum of Women in the Arts
When: Monday – Saturday, 10am -5pm & Sunday, 12-5pm
Where: 1250 New York Ave NW | Downtown DC
Admission: $10/adult, free/child – timed entry tickets required
COVID policies

Kennedy Center Grand Foyer and The REACH
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Where: 2700 F Street NW | Foggy Bottom
Admission: Free and passes are not required
COVID policies

Mansion on O Street
When: Daily, 11am – 3pm
Where: 2020 O Street NW | Dupont Circle
Admission: Tours start at $25 — online reservations required
COVID policies

Ford’s Theatre (CLOSED)
When: Starting October 14, Wed-Sun 10am – 1pm & 2-4pm
Where: 511 10th Street NW | Penn Quarter
Admission: Reserve timed tickets online here
COVID policies

Phillips Collection
When: Thursday – Sunday, 11am – 6pm
Where: 1600 21st Street NW | Dupont Circle
Admission: Free tickets released Mondays at 12pm for week
COVID policies

Planet Word
When: Thursday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm
Where: 925 13th Street NW | Downtown DC
Admission: Free timed entry passes required
COVID policies

 

MARYLAND

Maryland Science Center
When: Saturday & Sunday, 10am – 5pm, Wednesday 12-3pm (a few areas)
Where: 601 Light Street | Baltimore
Admission: $25.95/adult, $19.95/age 3-13
COVID policies

B&O Railroad Museum
When: Monday – Saturday, 10am – 4pm & Sunday, 11am – 4pm
Where: 901 West Pratt Street | Baltimore
Admission: $20/adult, $17/senior, $12/ages 2-12
COVID policies

National Aquarium
When: Sun-Thurs 9am – 5pm | Fri 9am – 8pm | Sat 9am – 6pm
Where: 501 E Pratt Street | Baltimore
Admission: $39.95/adult, $29.95/age 3-11, free/2 & under
COVID policies

American Visionary Art Museum
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Where: 800 Key Highway | Baltimore
Admission: $15.95/adult, $13.95/senior, $9.95/age 7-17, free/6 & under
COVID policies

ClimbZone
When: Mon-Wed 12-7pm | Fri 12-8pm | Sat-Sun 11am – 8pm
Where: 13200 MidAtlantic Blvd Suite 130 | Laurel
Admission: $15/age 2-5, $25/age 6+ for 2 hours — reserve online
COVID policies

Calvert Marine Museum
When: Daily, 10am – 5pm
Where: 14200 Solomons Island Road | Solomons
Admission: $9/adult, $7/senior, $4/child — reserve two-hour time-slot
COVID policies

Zava Zone
When: Thursday – Monday, hour vary by day
Where: 40 Southlawn Court | Rockville
Admission: Starts at $21.50/hour
COVID policies

Port Discovery
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm & Sundays, 11am – 4pm
Where: 35 Market Place | Baltimore
Admission: $17.95 advance purchase required
COVID policies

Baltimore Museum of Art
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Where: 10 Art Museum Drive | Baltimore
Admission: Free with timed entry passes
COVID policies

Pinstripes – Bistro, Bocce, & Bowling
When: Mon-Thurs 12-9pm/Fri 12-10pm/Sat 10am-10pm/Sun 10am-9pm
Where: 11920 Grand Park Ave | North Bethesda
Admission: Varies by game, # of people
COVID policies

 

VIRGINIA

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (CLOSED)
When: Daily, 10am – 5:30pm
Where: 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway | Chantilly
Admission: Free with timed-entry passes
COVID policies

Mount Vernon – Museum & Mansion
When: Daily, 9am – 5pm
Where: 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway | Mount Vernon
Admission: $20/adult, $12/age 6-16, free/under 6
COVID policies

Super, Awesome, & Amazing at the St. James
When: Thursday & Friday 1-8pm (GA), Saturday & Sunday 9am – 7pm for events only.
Where: 6805 Industrial Road | Springfield
Admission: $13/hour, $23/2 hours
COVID policies

Zava Zone
When: Thursday – Monday, hour vary by day
Where: 45685 Oakbrook Court Suite 110 | Sterling
Admission: Starts at $12/hour
COVID policies

Flight Trampoline Park
When: Daily, times vary by day
Where: 7200 Fullerton Road | Springfield
Admission: Starts at $14
COVID policies

 

Looking for indoor places that are especially great with little kids?  Check out this KFDC post!

 

 

 

5 Comments

Filed under 2020, All ages, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Indoor Play, Maryland, Museums, Reopened, Social Distancing, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend