Planet Word Museum

Washington, DC

Planet Word, the world’s first voice-activated museum, immerses visitors in the magic of language and seeks to promote continued curiosity involving reading and words. With this distinctive educational mission, it is no surprise that the museum has been situated in what was once the Franklin School, a National Historic Landmark which has housed multiple academic organizations and institutions, including the Board of Education, since 1869.

In 2018, EverGreene provided conservation services, plaster repairs, and finishes to transform the venue into a museum. Our conservators investigated the historic finishes and original plaster to determine proper repair and conservation treatments. Additionally, we documented the historic color palettes and decorative finish schemes in the Great Hall and the fourth-floor attic space, which was converted into the museum’s event space. The finishes investigations exposed original trompe l’oeil designs, rendered in what appeared to be distemper paints, in many areas. To document original paint colors and support replication of these designs we collected samples. The paint layers on the samples were characterized and Munsell color matches were determined for the historic finishes. Designs were exposed, photographed, and traced onto clear polyester sheets to facilitate replication on canvas substrates in our Brooklyn studio.

Our investigation of the plaster indicated that the original lime plaster was in fair to poor condition. We documented areas of damage and deterioration, conserved, and repaired the plaster as needed, and installed the replicated Great Hall trompe l’oeil designs over the conserved historic plaster and paint.