Tom Brink, head of Publications and Presentations department, writes about the project

A new museum concept

  • Print

Two years ago we got to hear the fantastic news that the Anne Frank House would receive an additional €910,000 in BankGiro Lottery funding for the development of a new museum concept. As well as great excitement this also led to wild ideas, lengthy discussions, constantly developing insights and sleepless nights.

Author Tom Brink, head of Publications and Presentations department at the Anne Frank House.

Hard to decide

What we want is to tell our museum visitor more about the world of Anne Frank. That means making choices, because there are so very many stories to tell and space is so limited. But it's hard to decide. Here are a few examples to illustrate the dilemmas we faced.

The story of Anne Frank

If we only tell the story of Anne as the victim of a barbarous regime, we don't do justice to her life. She was so much more. She was also a lively, cheerful, quick-witted, curious and sometimes obstinate girl. She went to school, she played with her friends, she loved skating, films and film stars, and she fell in love.

But there is also another Anne, who was forced by the circumstances during her time in hiding to grow up (too) fast, and crashed against the physical and mental walls of the much too small, stifling space she had to share with interfering adults.

We can also tell the story of the girl who, like so many girls of 13, began writing a diary and who, shut away in the secret annexe, developed into a true author.

Ontwerpschetsen

The other people in hiding

If we only tell those stories, we don't do justice to Anne's family: her sister Margot and her parents Otto and Edith. Anne's parents soon recognised the danger posed by Nazism, and so in 1933 they decided to emigrate from Germany to the Netherlands. They later tried to re-emigrate when the Nazi peril also reached Holland.

But we also have to tell the stories of the other people in hiding in the secret annexe, and of the people who helped them. And of the world beyond the secret annexe: the Nazi threat, the outbreak of war, the exclusion of Jews, the call-ups and the deportations, the arrest of the people in hiding and their last months in the concentration camps.

And then we still haven't said anything about what made Anne world-famous: her diaries and the role of Otto Frank in keeping alive his daughter's ideals of a just world, free of discrimination.

So much...

As I said earlier, there are so many stories to tell and so little space to tell them in. But the good news is that the struggle is behind us. We’ve made our choices! Sometimes with pain in our hearts, but always with conviction. The results will soon be visible in the Anne Frank House.

Tom Brink, February 2017