From hiding place to museum - The history of the Anne Frank House (5)

Informative exhibitions

Fototentoonstelling over Vietnamoorlog, jaren zestig
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Ever since Anne Frank House opened its doors to the public in 1960, it has continuously proven itself to be much more than a historic museum. Over the years, the House has hosted many informative exhibitions, never fearing to address sensitive or difficult social issues.

Otto’s vision for the organization that bears his daughter's name was to make it a place for young people, a place focussed on the future. One can see the way in which this vision has provided a guideline for Anne Frank House over its more than fifty year history. So, what does Anne's story mean to the youth of today and what does it say about the issues the world faces today and in the future?

The organization has constantly striven to highlight the relevance of Anne's story for a contemporary audience. Warning against the dangers of anti-Semitism, racism and discrimination has remained one of the key objectives of the Anne Frank Foundation.

The following are just a few examples of how Anne Frank House has addressed difficult social issues over the years.

Tafeldiscussie met op de achtergrond foto’s over de atoombom Affiche van Chili-tentoonstelling 1975
From top to bottom: discussion with pictures of the nuclear bomb shown in the background; poster from Chile Exhibition 1975.

Pictures dating from the early years of Anne Frank House show that the first exhibitions - on subjects such as human rights - primarily consisted of photographs and newspaper clippings fastened to soft board with pins or thumbtacks. Folders containing relevant newspaper clippings often accompanied these exhibitions.

From the latter half of the 1960s, Anne Frank House increasingly addressed tough social issues, such as the US Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. The museum’s guides, who were mostly students, often took the time to discuss these issues with visitors.

During the 1970s, Anne Frank House focussed on examples of injustice in the world. Attention was given to the issue of exploitation in South America, as well as South Africa’s immoral policy of Apartheid. 

In the eighties, cautionary exhibitions such as “The Tolerant Netherlands" (Nederland Tolerant) and "Black-White '84" (Zwart-Wit ’84) used newspaper clippings and photographs to show how new ethnic minorities were exposed to discrimination and racist violence in the Netherlands.

Ruud Gullit bij de opening van Zwart Wit ’84
Dutch football manager Ruud Gullit at the opening of "Black-White '84"

The war that erupted in the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s was the focus of such exhibitions as "The Ugly Face of Nationalism" (Het lelijke gezicht van nationalisme) and "I Dream of Peace" (Ik droom over vrede), an exhibition that was created in collaboration with UNICEF. In this exhibition, children from the former Yugoslavia used drawings to convey the horrors they experienced during the war.

Paul van Vliet opent de tentoonstelling Ik droom over vrede in het Anne Frank Huis, 1994
Dutch entertainer Paul Van Vliet opening the "I Dream of Peace" exhibition incorporating drawings and texts by kids from the former Yugoslavia, 1994.

Not long after the opening of the newly-renovated museum in 1999, a new concept was added to the end of the tour to force visitors to confront the contemporary relevance of the museum's message. Interactive film segments were added to provoke visitors into taking a stance on current social issues.

Informative film series such as "Out of Line" and later "Free2choose" present visitors with the dilemma of conflicting human rights and ask difficult questions of them; questions to which the visitor must first quickly respond, but afterwards is forced to reflect on his or her answer. In this way, Anne Frank House manages to continuously link human rights awareness with Holocaust education.

Grensgevallen Free2choose

Saved from demolition Building is saved

The building at Prinsengracht 263 and the properties adjacent to it were in a dilapidated state after the war.

Juli 1968, zomerconferentie

International Youth Centre Otto Frank’s dream

Otto Frank’s vision for Anne Frank House was to turn it into an international youth centre.


Renovation, expansion and conservation Restoration and transformation

After its initial restoration and opening in 1960, Anne Frank House has undergone two major additional renovations...

Minister Ronald Plasterk kijkt met belangstelling naar een getrouwe kopie van het dagboek van Anne Frank

All original writings on display Famous manuscripts

Among the items on display inside Anne Frank House are the original diaries and samples of other writing that Anne produced…

Fototentoonstelling over Vietnamoorlog, jaren zestig

Informative exhibitions Social issues

Since its opening to the public, the Anne Frank House has proven itself to be much more than a historic museum.

Anne Frank Huis. Bezoekers bekijken de maquette van het huis.
Anne Frank House. Visitors looking at the model of the house.

Visitors over the years

Anne Frank House is often a busy place...

Anne Frank Huis. Eerste ruimte van de museumroute. 
Anne Frank House. First room of the museum route.

More history? Educational role

Although much has changed since Anne Frank House first opened its doors in 1960, a lot has remained the same...