Ann Frank House: more than a museum - mo'adore: cruelty-free beauty ∙ vegan food ∙ glasgow/dundee lifestyle

10 March 2016

Ann Frank House: more than a museum



I've been wanting to see the Ann Frank House since I was little. 

I'm not sure how little, but I imagine probably about the time World War 2 was chosen as our class project in primary school. In the Easter of 2002 on a family trip to Florida we had a stop-over in Amsterdam airport and I pleaded with my mum to take a trip out to visit Ann Frank's House. My eleven year old self didn't quite understand how airport stop-overs worked yet. 

Fast forward to my twenty-fifth year on earth and I finally got to climb the stairs of the attic myself on my recent trip to Amsterdam. 

When people ask me if I enjoyed the museum or what it was like, I'm not entirely sure how to answer. Most museums could be described as "nice", "lovely" and "enjoyable". While it was interesting and I agree standing in the long queue was worth it, the usual adjectives to describe museums just don't feel right. I'd honestly maybe say it was 'creepy' and 'eerie' walking round the former hideout of a discriminated group of individuals during a historical event that shows just how much further society still has to go. It even felt odd that something like this should actually be a tourist attraction at all. 

I don't even think me and Hayley even muttered a word to each other as we walked through the corridors of the former hideout. With all furniture removed at the request of Otto Frank the rooms feel bare and haunted. I'm not even sure if I heard any of the other visitors even whisper to each other.

Moving out of the attic and into the museum, you can feel tension coming undone and visitors begin to pass verbal cues to one another again. This, however, was also the part where I began to act up emotionally. The attic itself was eery but it also fails to feel....real. As in no way did eight people manage to hide here for two years? It's back in the museum where you learn more about the story and see the official artefacts (including the diary itself) that it began to dawn on me that Ann Franks Diary wasn't just a book.

It was real life. On top of that it was also a sociological commentary. It was a story of how dark society can get when we don't fight discrimination. It was a memoir of what it's like to be part of a marginalised group who actually had to go into fucking hiding. It's a reminder as to why social justice warriors and activists do what they do. The museum even explicitly says that the ideologies and political beliefs that led to these events are not yet dead and still hover at the fringes of society (or even subliminally in mainstream media). 

It could happen again.

In clips of Otto Frank - Anne's father, the sole survivor - discussing his decision to publish his daughter's diary and open the museum, it becomes clear that this is the message he wanted to get across. He was honouring his daughter's wishes, but he also wanted to crack down on the lack of humanity within society that meant the diary ever had to exist in the first place. 

The last part of the museum shows a film where people say what the diary means to them. The actress Emma Thompson appeared and it was her quote that hit me and I chose for my Instagram of the Anne Frank statue

"Her would-haves are our opportunities".

Anne wanted to change the world post-war and fight the beliefs that put her into hiding with her diary as solace. She also wanted to become a world-famous writer. Which she did go on to achieve, but didn't survive the war to witness her diary become one of the best-selling pieces of literature ever.

And as that piece of information surrounded me, I felt myself act up again. 


3 comments :

  1. I went to see the Anne Frank house 9 years ago and I totally agree with you, it is such a different feeling to any other museum. But that's the point I guess. It wants to make you think and I feel that is especially important in current times when you see discrimination and populist views appear more and more.
    I hope you liked Amsterdam, it's such a beautiful city!
    Patti Shifting Tales

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is how I felt at the Holocaust exhibit at the Imperial War Museum. I didn't enjoy it...but I did. And there were people speaking on the phone when we were walking round - I couldn't believe it!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I visited a former concentration camp just outside Berlin when I was in college and it feels very strange to walk through a place like that when you know what happened there. It's weird that it's a 'tourist attraction' but in a way, it's worth it for people to see these places. It is very different to just studying it in school. I want to visit the Anne Frank museum for sure.

    Natasha Kendall

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking some time to comment my blog :) I try and return comments for everyone. If there is anything you want to ask quickly you can tweet me at @moadore

Hugs and kisses!