Around the World in Waxhaw

By  Julia Rose

 A whole new world awaits–not just one, but a dozen different worlds packed into the Museum of the Alphabet! Every ten steps take a visitor to a new room representing a different region, engaging several senses simultaneously. From captivating art to interactive displays and activity stations, the Museum of the Alphabet transports visitors of any age from a small town in North Carolina to the Middle East, Africa, India, Korea, and beyond.

Due to COVID-19*, the Museum of the Alphabet had to close for a period of time. Taking advantage of the time, curator Debbie Newby and former JAARS Fellows Hayley and Abigail began working on remodeling: updating old displays and creating new ones. From new statistics to the impact of COVID-19 on translation work, they renovated the museum’s classic rooms to keep information accurate about the constantly changing world.

Keeping displays and information current has been important for over thirty years. The museum is a unique resource for people who want to learn about languages: how, where, and by whom they were developed. From the non-verbal American Sign Language and beautiful Cherokee language, which is native to North America, to the ancient forms of Mediterranean Hebrew and Arabic, there is a world-wide variety of exhibits to explore. As one of only two of its kind in the nation, the museum invites everyone for an experience they won’t quickly forgot. It’s perfect for families to learn about the ancient roots of languages and the modern developments worldwide.

One family spent an afternoon exploring the museum and proving that all ages can benefit from a trip to the museum. From 5-year-old Melody to the mom, from 10-year-old Caleb to 21-year-old Annalysa, each member of the family found the museum fascinating in his or her own way.

Melody, the youngest, soaked it all in through wide eyes, her favorite part constantly changing as she explored. The dolls and dresses from different countries caught her attention, and she enjoyed doing the activities as part of the museum treasure hunt.

Caleb, an avid reader, tried to read almost every sign. He enjoyed the interactive information sections, like the wall map quiz. A fun-fact lover, he absorbed as much as he could from every room to add to his random knowledge bank.

Fourteen-year-old Joshua has a huge pocket knife collection and was naturally intrigued by the weapons and tools from across the world. He especially took time at several displays with native handiwork.

Annalysa, a 21-year-old language lover, was drawn to the details of the distinct languages. She almost wanted to become a linguist after going through the museum! At the end, she said, “The mark of a good museum is one that makes you want to keep going. The Museum of the Alphabet presents so much information in so many different ways that it’s not redundant and allows for information absorption.”

Dawn, the mother, enjoyed the multimedia displays with videos of Scripture celebrations. “With the accessibility and engagement in so many ways, an adult can’t get bored.”

With a balance of informational displays and captivating visuals, the museum appealed to every age with its 3D textural exhibits. Introducing various cultures expands horizons and inspires appreciation for other languages and peoples in eye-opening ways.


Not only is the museum an eye-opening introduction to many cultures, it gives a perspective of the power of God displayed through the beauty of languages crafted from the brokenness of Babel. It’s a reminder of the roots of creation, how God created all in his image despite language barriers and differences.

Even if you have visited the Museum of the Alphabet before, you’ll always be able to discover new depths that you might have missed previously, as well as enjoy the new exhibits. It’s impossible to take in all the information with just one visit; the time and thought poured into each sign and room invite visitors back for endless learning!

You too can experience the many worlds of the Museum of the Alphabet! Click here to see what you can do on your next trip to JAARS.