In the museum, in our publications, and in our (online) exhibitions, we tell the life story of Anne Frank in the context of the persecution of the Jews and the Second World War.
Record number of visitors
In 2019, the Anne Frank House welcomed 1.3 million visitors. That was about 80,000 more visitors than in 2018 and 40,000 more than in 2017, when the museum was renovated. Approximately 90% of the 1.3 million visitors came from abroad. More than half of the visitors were under 30 years of age.
‘The Anne Frank House illustrates how prejudice, racism, and antisemitism affect people and society, and what they can ultimately lead to. In our new museum set-up, we focus even more strongly on this part of history than before. During the renovation, we added educational spaces. This year, we have run 6,500 introductory programmes for museum visitors and 1,650 educational workshops for school groups. We hope that a visit to the Anne Frank House provides food for thought and invites reflection in this day and age.’
Ronald Leopold, executive director of the Anne Frank House
In addition to the audio tour in 9 languages, there is now a paper version of the audio tour in six languages for our deaf and hearing-impaired visitors (in Dutch, English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian). These serve an average of one hundred visitors per month.
In 2019, the three educational rooms were given a new, more museum-like look. The rooms were equipped with new furniture, a new timeline, and new display cases with objects related to life in hiding. In the educational rooms, school classes can participate in educational workshops and museum visitors can add an introductory programme to their museum visit.
Many school groups from the Netherlands and abroad visit the Anne Frank House. In 2019, 1,650 groups from primary and secondary schools, teacher’s training colleges, and intermediate vocational schools participated in two-hour educational workshops in Dutch, German, or English.
Museum visitors can book an introductory programme of half an hour prior to their visit. In 2019, 6,500 introductory programmes were carried out, in Dutch or in English.
Educational staff member Gabri Brummelman takes you on a group tour of the museum for secondary school students.
During the first half of the year, the Tastbare Herinneringen (Tangible Memories) exhibition was on display in the museum, with collection pieces that reflected the broad range of the museum’s collection. The objects were arranged by theme: photography, writing, studying, and leisure time. Among other things, there were a French schoolbook in which Anne Frank wrote her name and the words Jewish Lyceum, 1941/1942; the album of her classmate Bep, in which Anne Frank wrote a verse; a little tea set that Anne left with Toos, the girl next door, before she went into hiding; one of Margot Frank’s school reports; a class photo showing Margot and her classmates at the Girls’ Lyceum in May 1941; and a letter written by Edith Frank to Gertrud Naumann, their former neighbour in Frankfurt, dated 25 March 1937. The collection of the Anne Frank House contains some 15,000 documents and objects.
Life in the Secret Annex
In July, the exhibition on Life in the Secret Annex followed on Tangible Memories. This temporary exhibition showed the original illustrations that Huck Scarry made for the book All about Anne. Sketches and studies of details from the Secret Annex were alternated with atmospheric drawings of the time Anne lived here in hiding.
Huck Scarry’s original drawings (and some enlargements) show in detail and with great sensitivity how the rooms of the Secret Annex were furnished when Anne Frank and the others lived there. The drawings also show what life in the Secret Annex was like. One series of drawings explains how the bookcase became the entrance to the Secret Annex and how the people living there could open and close it.
The other home of the Frank family
As from December, a new temporary exhibition was put up: The other home of the Frank family. This ‘other home’ was the house where the Frank family lived before they went into hiding in the Secret Annex on Prinsengracht. The exhibition gave an insight into the life of the Frank family and that of other Jewish immigrants living on Merwedeplein. Rian Verhoeven, who did research into the people living on Merwedeplein, co-curated the exhibition.
For the second time, 2,000 Amsterdammers were invited to visit the Anne Frank House for free. The interest in the two evenings in November 2018 was so overwhelming, that we decided to host two more evenings in January 2019, on 11th and 18th January. And, like the first time, the 2,000 free tickets were ‘sold out’ in no time. The Amsterdammers highly appreciated the initiative and were impressed with the renewed museum.
On the evening of 29th August, the Anne Frank House opened its doors for first-year students of the University of Amsterdam. The students were invited to enter the museum for free. All through that week, newly arrived UvA students got to know their university, fellow students, and their city. A visit to the Anne Frank House was part of the introduction. Other museums also participated in the UvA’s Night at the Museum.
In September, we welcomed about fifty students from the six Dutch Caribbean islands who are studying in Amsterdam. The students took the introductory workshop, walked around the museum, and the evening ended with drinks in the museum café. We started hosting receptions for Caribbean students in September 2015, in cooperation with Stichting WeConnect.
Saturday 2 November was Amsterdam Museum Night. We participated, as in other years, and so did 56 other museums. Our varied programme - with improv poetry, spoken word artists, singer-songwriters, a band and DJ - attracted a mixed audience. The 1,800 visitors took enjoyed taking a good look around the House while they were there. The museum café stayed busy until the early hours.
His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew visited the Anne Frank House on 7 November, with a contingent of twelve fellow believers and guests, and paid close attention to the spaces, objects, and stories in and around the Secret Annex.
On Friday, 8th November there was a special evening opening for participants of the BankGiro Lottery. They were highly appreciative of the event and the museum catalogue they were presented with at the end of their visit.
Nominated for the 2020 European Museum of the Year Award
The Anne Frank House was nominated for the 2020 European Museum of the Year Award. The winner will be announced in the course of 2020.
The museum catalogue of the Anne Frank House won the Silver Medal in the competition for the Schönste Bücher aus aller Welt (Most Beautiful Books in the World), the international jury announced in Leipzig on 7th March. The catalogue expands on the information provided during a visit to the Anne Frank House. Irma Boom created the design, Elias van der Plicht took care of the text.
The international award followed on the national award received in the 2018 competition for the Best Dutch Book Designs. Together with other award-winning books, the museum catalogue was exhibited at the Leipziger Buchmesse.
On 11 May 2019, Liebe Kitty, the unfinished manuscript of a girl who wanted to become a writer, was published. After the war, Anne Frank had planned to publish a ‘novel’ about life in hiding, based on her diaries. Liebe Kitty is a version of the novel Anne had in mind.
It was the first time that this work of Anne’s was published in a new translation and as a stand-alone edition. The book contains an essay by Laureen Nussbaum. Laureen Nussbaum was a professor of foreign languages and literature at Portland State University and a friend of the family. She had been advocating a publication like this one for years. The book was published in Argentina, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
Anne’s novel was published exactly 75 years after 11 May 1944, when she wrote in her diary: ‘In any case, after the war I’d like to publish a book called Het Achterhuis (The Secret Annex). It remains to be seen whether I’ll succeed, but my diary can serve as the basis.’
In Liebe Kitty, we see a writer in the making. It is a literary work and shows all of Anne’s creative and literary choices. This brings the reader close to the writer Anne Frank. The book was published out of love for literature and in recognition of Anne’s qualities as a writer.
Through its social-media channels and the website annefrank.org, the Anne Frank House reaches millions of people all over the world.
Every month, we reach hundreds of thousands of people around the world through our social-media channels. They often see posts about Anne Frank that link her story to our present times. In this way, we hope to make people think about the importance of freedom and democracy.
In 2019, we reviewed our social-media channels and tested the effectiveness of our social-media strategy. Especially on Instagram and YouTube, important channels for young people, we can grow a lot by developing more specific posts that appeal to people on a personal level.
We also renewed the design of our social-media channels. They now match the design of the website and are recognisable and modern.
In 2019, the website attracted 6.5 million visitors, who watched an average of 4.3 pages in 6.5 minutes. Visits increased by 8% per month. Most of the visitors came from the United States (1.4 million) and the Netherlands (1 million), followed by Great Britain, Germany, Mexico, and Spain. As a consequence, the website was mainly (53.7%) read in English. 56.5% of the visitors accessed the site on their smartphones and 35.5% on their desktop computers.
About 20% of the visitors spent more time on the website, for an average of 25 minutes. During their visit, they typically looked at almost everything about Anne Frank, but also at pages about our educational programmes and at the section on current themes.
Awards for the website
The Anne Frank House won no less than three Webby Awards, the leading international awards in the digital world. The annefrank.org website was awarded a jury prize in the categories Websites - Cultural Institutions and Mobile - Culture & Events. In addition, the platform won the People’s Voice, the prize awarded by the public, in the category Websites - Cultural Institutions. The announcement was in April, the award ceremony in May.
In the Netherlands, the website won silver at The Lovie Awards and gold at the Dutch Interactive Award. Finally, the website came second in the 2019 History Online Jury Award, the prize for the most innovative, surprising, or beautiful online presentation on history.
‘We want to spread Anne Frank’s life story around the world, in accordance with the mission that Otto Frank passed on to us. We are always looking for the best way to do so. We are overjoyed that the jury and the public chose to back us and awarded the website with no less than three Webbys. We thank the jury and the public, as well as IN10 and Maykin Media, who developed the new website with us.’
Ronald Leopold, executive director of the Anne Frank House
In July, we launched the renewed virtual reality tour of Anne Frank’s Secret Annex, the Anne Frank House VR. Before, you could take a three-dimensional look inside the rooms of the Secret Annex, decorated in the style of the period in hiding, but now, you can stroll through them. This makes the virtual tour of the Secret Annex even more impressive.
Force Field developed the (renewed) Anne Frank House VR for Oculus Rift and Oculus Quest VR glasses, in collaboration with the Anne Frank House and with financial support from Oculus. The VR tour takes about 25 minutes, is available in seven languages, and can be downloaded for free from the Oculus Store.
Open Jewish Houses and Houses of Resistance
On 4th May, we participated once again in Open Jewish Houses and Houses of Resistance, and we welcomed around 100 people at the former home of Anne Frank at Merwedeplein. Divided into four groups, visitors received information about Anne’s life at Merwedeplein, the restoration and interior design of the former house, and its current use for refugee writers in residence.
Anne Frank collection takes to the road
On 8th May, the international exposition Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. opened to the public at the New York Museum of Jewish Heritage. The exhibition showed the dual identity of Auschwitz as a physical location - the largest documented site for mass murder in the history of mankind - and as a symbol of the expression of hatred and human barbarity. Many items came from the collection of the Auschwitz Museum and the Yad Vashem Memorial Centre, others came from the Museum of Jewish Heritage’s own collection and from survivors and their families.
Ten objects came from the collection of the Anne Frank House, including a drawing that Anne Frank made at the Montessori school, a sheet of passport photographs of Margot Frank, the handle (see photo) used by the people in hiding and the helpers of the Secret Annex to open the revolving bookcase, and a programme for the play The Diary of Anne Frank, which premiered in New York in 1956.
In this blog post, Teresien da Silva, Head of Collections at the Anne Frank House, described travelling from Amsterdam to New York with these ten objects from our collection.
The Knowledge Centre of the Anne Frank House studies the lives of the Frank family, the other people in hiding, and the helpers. The aim is to complete their biographies and to interpret and explain important events in their lives. In 2019, for example, we conducted research into the Frank family and the German Jewish exile community in the 1930s. In addition, we tried to make as accurate a reconstruction as possible of the fate and the experiences of the eight people from the Secret Annex in the concentration camps. The knowledge gained from our historical research is used in our products and activities. In addition, we publish and share our research results with the press and the public.
New photos of Margot
In December, we received two original photos of Margot with her rowing team. The pictures were taken in the summer of 1941, by their gym teacher and rowing coach Roos van Gelder. It was the last summer in which then 15-year-old Margot would be rowing. Due to ever stricter anti-Jewish measures, Margot was no longer allowed to row from mid-September 1941 onwards, and the Jewish Roos van Gelder was no longer allowed to coach the girls. Their non-Jewish teammates showed solidarity and gave up rowing as well. We shared the photos shortly before Margot Frank’s 94th birthday on 16 February 2020.
‘Margot was a beautiful, bright, and sporty girl. We already had some pictures of Margot on skis, ice skates, and on the tennis court, and now we also have photos of Margot with her rowing team. These new photos show a cheerful girl, enjoying herself with her team mates. They are a delight. We are very grateful to Paul Mensinga, Roos van Gelder’s nephew, for donating the two photos.’
Teresien da Silva, Head of Collections at the Anne Frank House