So for many young people the war is just a part of 'schoolbook history'. Anne Frank is in danger of becoming more of an icon than a window on the terrible events of the Shoah.
In 2020 it will be 75 years since the end of the Second World War. There are fewer and fewer eyewitnesses who can bring immediacy to the facts and events of that time by sharing their personal experiences.
Reappraisal of the museum concept
The mainly young visitors to the Anne Frank House often no longer have a sound knowledge of the history of the Second World War and the Holocaust. With the increasing distance in time, widespread knowledge of the Second World War is declining. This calls for a reappraisal of the concept of the museum and its permanent exhibition.
Ronald Leopold, executive director of the Anne Frank House, says: 'Many of our visitors are aged under 25, and come from countries outside of Europe. So it’s important to go deeper into the historical context and the background to the life story of Anne Frank in the museum. We’ll be giving more information on what happened during the Second World War and the Holocaust, how it could happen, and what this means for us today. We’ll also go deeper into the history of the time spent in hiding and the key figures in the house. But of course we will retain the authentic character of the house: experience and meaning will always be our priorities.'
The aim of the renewed museum concept is to make a stronger contribution to the historical awareness and emotional experience of the visitors. In the new design the ‘macro’ history of the Second World War and the Holocaust and the ‘micro’ history of the people in hiding in the Secret Annex will be depicted in a new and integrated way.
Understanding and experience
The central focus is on the diary of Anne Frank and the Secret Annex. Anne Frank is the key figure in the museum, and the narrator of the story: the history of each space during the time in hiding is told using quotations from her diary wherever possible, and by giving additional information on the Second World War and the Holocaust this history can be better understood and experienced.
With 1.2 million visitors per year, the Anne Frank House is one of the most visited museums in the Netherlands. Interest from the Netherlands and abroad leads to many visitors every day. To prevent congestion in the museum and manage the pressure of numbers and safety issues in and around the Anne Frank House, it is essential to create facilities for the waiting visitors and improve the logistics around the entrance.
The Anne Frank House will also gain more space. The former student flats on the Westermarkt square will be made a part of the museum, making space available for educational groups and visitor facilities. The entrance hall will be improved, and extra toilets and a compulsory cloakroom will be added. A separate group entrance will also be created for the roughly 100,000 people who visit the Anne Frank House in school classes or other groups.
Garance Reus-Deelder, managing director of the Anne Frank House: ´Not only can we provide the visitors with better facilities and improve the logistics around the Anne Frank House, soon we will also be better able to meet the demand for educational programmes, especially for schools, thanks to an extra educational space.´