In the museum, in our publications, and in our online and offline exhibitions we tell the life story of Anne Frank in the context of the persecution of the Jews and the Second World War.
The museum had to close its doors again…
As a consequence of the pandemic the Anne Frank House also had to close its doors for a large part of the year in 2021. The lockdown that began in December 2020 continued until 5 June 2021. After having been closed for almost six consecutive months, the Anne Frank House – like other museums in the Netherlands – could open again from Saturday 5 June. Because the corona measures were still in force in the museum, meaning that fewer visitors could be admitted, visitors could experience the silence and emptiness of the Anne Frank House even more intensely than before.
‘The Anne Frank House had never been closed for more than a day since the opening on 3 May 1960, and even stayed open during renovation work. So last year, when we were mainly closed due to the corona pandemic, was unprecedented. We are delighted that we can now welcome visitors to the Anne Frank House and share Anne Frank’s hiding place and life story with the outside world again. Come and visit us, you’re welcome!’
Ronald Leopold, executive director of the Anne Frank House
For a while things went well. As well as Netherlanders, visitors from abroad were again finding their way to the Anne Frank House. But in the autumn the number of Covid infections flared up again, and the Netherlands went into total lockdown from 15 December 2021 to 25 January 2022. So just as in 2020, the museum was closed during the normally busy Christmas period.
Number of visitors
The corona crisis had major consequences for the Anne Frank House. The museum was closed for almost half of the year. The lockdowns and other corona measures caused a substantial drop in visitor numbers.
In 2019 the Anne Frank House received a record 1.3 million visitors, but in 2020 that number dropped to 396,779, and in 2021 it fell still further, to 277,901.
Educational and introductory programmes
1,650 primary and secondary school groups, trainee teachers and college students followed an educational programme in the Anne Frank House in 2019. These programmes last for two hours, and are given in Dutch, German or English. In 2020 only 316 programmes were given, and as a consequence of the corona crisis no educational programmes for school groups were given at all in 2021.
For museum visitors there are half-hour introductory programmes prior to their museum visits. In 2019 we gave 6,500 introductory programmes in the Anne Frank House, but this number fell to 4,789 in 2020 and just 712 in 2021.
As a result of the lockdowns and corona restrictions, physical programmes in the Anne Frank House were limited in 2021. As an alternative, online programmes for school groups and for individuals were organised. In 2021 we presented 293 online programmes: 283 to school groups and 10 to individual visitors. One component of the online programmes is a guided tour – The Secret Annex Online – led by a member of our education staff.
Temporary exhibition: A Room Full of Dreams
The new exhibition A Room Full of Dreams opened on 3 July at the Anne Frank House. This exhibition centres around the pictures and postcards that Anne Frank stuck on the walls of her bedroom. At first glance it may seem like a random collection, but the pictures tell a story: they reflect Anne’s life, her dreams, and her changing interests during her life in hiding. In addition to cinema and royalty she gained an interest in art history, as evidenced by pictures of a work by Rembrandt, Michelangelo’s Pietà, and others.
In the exhibition a large interactive touchscreen lets visitors take a 360-degree look around Anne’s little room and zoom in on several pictures provided with background information. The exhibition is located at the end of the museum route in the Anne Frank House, after the Secret Annex and the Diary Room. The original pictures are still on display in Anne’s bedroom in the Secret Annex.
Anne had started collecting postcards and pictures of movie stars even before the family went into hiding. This collection went from the house on the Merwedeplein square to the Secret Annex. On 11 July 1942, Anne wrote in her diary:
‘Thanks to Father – who brought my whole postcard and film-star collection here beforehand – and to a brush and a pot of glue, I was able to plaster the walls with pictures.’
Anne Frank, 11 July 1942
New display cases for pictures in Anne Frank’s room
Visitors to the Anne Frank House experience Anne Frank’s life story through quotations, photographs, film clips, and original objects, such as the bookcase, the pictures and her diaries. We make every effort to properly protect these originals from outside influences.
In the week of 15 September the glass display cases in Anne Frank’s bedroom in the Secret Annex were replaced. The new display cases protect the original pictures that Anne Frank stuck on the wallpaper from outside influences, such as climatic variations, humidity, dust and vibration. The new glass display cases have the additional advantage that they are fitted with hinges. These hinges make the display cases easier to open so that we can have the condition of the pictures checked regularly and restored when necessary.
Amsterdam Museum Night
Saturday 6 November was museum night. With a special ticket bought in advance, young and old alike could visit all the museums in Amsterdam from 7 PM to midnight. The Anne Frank House took part once again, with a special programme linked to the temporary exhibition A Room Full of Dreams. We asked visitors to write down their dreams and share them with their fellow visitors.
Through its social media platforms and the website annefrank.org the Anne Frank House reaches millions of people all around the world.
On 27 January, on International Holocaust Memorial Day, the Anne Frank House took part in the #everynamecounts project and called to everyone to make their own contribution. The project is an initiative of the Arolsen Archives, and builds on the largest digital monument for the victims of Nazi persecution with the help of volunteers worldwide. Since it was launched in January 2020 over 10,000 volunteers have digitised more than 2.5 million documents.
Our social media channels continued to make steady growth in 2021. Instagram, YouTube and TikTok are important channels for young people, and we develop specific posts that appeal to our followers. The starting point is almost always Anne Frank herself.
We have been growing steadily on Twitter, from 64,000 followers in 2020 to 70,000 in 2021, on Instagram we have gone from 137,000 followers in 2020 to 157,000 in 2021, and on YouTube we have continued our significant growth, from 135,000 subscribers in 2020 to 215,000 in 2021. On Facebook our many fans have remained loyal to our channel, and by the end of 2021 the counter stood at 896,000 followers.
In early 2021 we made a start on TikTok, a popular channel among young people. We have received many positive responses on the films we have posted about Anne Frank. In just a few months we had 13,000 TikTok-followers.
Thanks to the Anne Frank video diary and its sequel the total number of views of all videos on YouTube has grown dramatically, from 10 million in 2019 to 18 million in 2020 and 21.5 million in 2021.
The annefrank.org website attracted 8.5 million visitors in 2021, with 11 million visits. That represents a slight reduction in comparison with 2020, with 8.7 million visitors and 11.3 million visits.
The number of visits per month varied greatly in 2021. This had to do with the large-scale use of the website in education in the first half of the year, with many visits to the educational pages, and with the closure of the museum in the first six months, meaning that the pages for museum information and ticket sales were rarely visited.
On Saturday 12 June 2021 it was 92 years since Anne Frank was born in Frankfurt am Main. On Anne’s birthday we pause and reflect on her life and its significance. What does Anne Frank mean to you? With the hashtag #Anne92 young people could share what Anne means to them on social media. In the Anne Frank House there were special educational programmes for museum visitors, and they were given postcards with passport photos of Anne dating from 1939. A special film had also been made from this series of photos.
Sequel to Anne Frank video diary: After the Arrest
The Anne Frank video diary on the YouTube channel of the Anne Frank House ends with the arrest of Anne Frank and the seven other people in hiding.
On 4 August, the day that 77 years ago Anne and the seven other people in hiding in the Secret Annex were arrested, the Anne Frank House launched the sequel to the Anne Frank video diary, After the Arrest, on its YouTube channel worldwide. With this sequel the Anne Frank House is responding to many young people's questions about what happened to Anne after her arrest, a period that she was unable to describe in her diary. Every Media signed on again for the production. In three new episodes, Anne Frank, played by Luna Cruz Perez, shares her life, thoughts and feelings about the period after going into hiding. Anne no longer films herself, but is filmed as she reflects on the last six months of her life, the terrible time in the camps. We look at the events around her through Anne's eyes.
The book Na het Achterhuis (‘After the Secret Annex’) by Bas von Benda-Beckmann, a researcher at the Anne Frank House, and other relevant sources such as eyewitness testimonies formed the basis of the episodes about the time after the arrest.
Anne Frank’s digitised manuscripts available in their entirety
On 28 September the Association for Research and Access to Historical Texts launched a new online scholarly edition of the complete manuscripts of Anne Frank. For the first time, the original manuscripts that Anne Frank had hoped would make her a famous writer can be accessed in their entirety online and inspected in their historical context.
The Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands (Huygens ING) partnered with the Anne Frank House to study Anne Frank’s diaries, her own adaptation of them into a ‘Secret Annex novel’, her short stories and her other works. The manuscripts were compiled to produce this new edition, which also provides historical background information and comparative analyses. Anne Frank’s development as a writer has never before been so well documented.
The online scholarly edition is only accessible in those countries where the copyright law on Anne Frank’s Texts allows this. In Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands Antilles and other countries, some 60 in all, this edition is available to everyone online at www.annefrankmanuscripten.org. Through geo-blocking the availability is limited to those countries. In the Netherlands and a number of other countries the online scholarly edition is not accessible due to copyright regulations. An English translation of this edition will be made available later in those countries where this is permitted by copyright law.
The Bookcase for Tolerance
On 16 November, UNESCO International Day for Tolerance, the Anne Frank House launched The Bookcase for Tolerance. This app tells the stories of Anne Frank and of four young adults who are confronted with antisemitism, racism, and discrimination in Dutch society today. The stories and videos are all in English to make the app accessible to people worldwide.
In The Bookcase for Tolerance app, you can look around the rooms of Anne Frank and those of Dalit, Mees, Kuei and Majd in augmented reality. Dalit is frequently confronted with antisemitism. And as a trans person, Mees is not always accepted for who he is. Kuei is a black woman who is discriminated against for the colour of her skin. And as a refugee in the Netherlands, Majd often faces prejudice. In the app they welcome you to their world and tell you about their lives, their struggles, and their views of the future. Canadian actor Elliot Page, who as a transgender person often speaks out for more acceptance and tolerance, also contributed to this project. He recorded the voice-over of the teaser.
‘Let me be myself’, Anne Frank wrote in her diary on 11 April 1944. On that same day, she added: ‘One day this terrible war will be over. The time will come when we’ll be people again and not just Jews!’ The bookcase, which hides the entrance to the Secret Annex where Anne Frank spent over two years in hiding, reminds us of the damage that prejudice and discrimination can do. Many young people today are dealing with these same issues. The Bookcase for Tolerance tells their stories. We want to use the impact of their personal testimonies to challenge and counter intolerance and discrimination.’
Ronald Leopold, executive director of the Anne Frank House
New online museum tour
The Anne Frank House started online museum tours for schools and individuals on 15 December. Museum staff of the Anne Frank House give live tours and take visitors with them online through the building where Anne Frank and the seven other Jewish people in hiding were forced to remain for over two years.
The project is still in its pilot phase, but the online tour is undoubtedly here to stay: teachers said they were also interested in taking online museum tours ‘post-corona’.