Learn about Anne Frank's life story in a modern way that explores current issues of identity, exclusion and discrimination.
Posted on Oct 31, 2018 By Jennifer Simonson
Through her now famous diary, Anne Frank put a human face to the Holocaust's incomprehensible genocide. The Anne Frank House Museum in Amsterdam is one of Europe's most popular museum, where visitors make their way through the tiny three-story annex to see where Anne Frank and her family lived while hiding from the Nazis. Through the amazement of new technology, the Dallas Holocaust Museum brought the experience of exploring the Anne Frank House to North Texas.
The first part of the exhibit is a virtual reality experience. Museums around the world are embracing virtual reality to allow would-be visitors to tour exhibits without actually "being" there. Exploring the Anne Frank House at the Dallas Holocaust Museum is as easy as booking an appointment then showing up a few minutes before the allotted time. Staff members help you strap on a VR headset, provide a few instructions, then give you 15 minutes to explore the annex that housed the Franks and other families during World War II.
The tour starts at the bookcase that blocked the secret entrance to the annex. Ducking through the doorway, visitors can walk through the Frank's living quarters on the first floor before climbing another narrow staircase to the floor where the Van Pels family, also residents of the annex, lived. In the attic on the third floor, a set of binoculars sits by the window where Anne watched the world at night.
The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam is unfurnished in order to fit the large number of visitors flowing through the small space. In the world of virtual reality, space is not an issue. The annex is furnished exactly as it was during the time the Franks lived there. Using a special clicker, participants can pick up certain objects for a closer look, listen to Anne read excerpts from her diary and see where the families cooked, slept and lived during their time in hiding.
Like her diary, the tour showcases both the mundane everyday moments where the families cooked meals and the realities of the war where the families gathered around the radio to listen for war updates.
Let Me Be Myself Exhibit
The virtual reality tour is the first part of a larger exhibit named Let Me Be Myself: The Life Story of Anne Frank. In addition to a the quick trip to Amsterdam, the second part of the exhibit tells Frank's life story from her birth in 1929 to her death in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945 through large personal photos. A copy of the red checked diary Anne received on her 13th birthday and an original yellow star Jews were forced to wear on their clothes are also on display.
Voices of Today
The last third of the exhibition is dedicated to today's youth. Videos clips run on a loop of young people telling their stories of prejudice and how they overcome these hardships. Visitors are encouraged to write how they would react to discrimination and prejudice before leaving the exhibition.
The exhibit runs through August 2019. The 15-minute virtual reality tour is free with the price of admission. Tours are from 1-3 p.m. daily and must be booked online.
Stay tuned for the opening of the new museum that will be renamed to the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, and will feature a new and larger state-of-the-art building, expanded educational and cultural programming and more! The museum is set to open in Fall 2019.
Photos courtesy of the Dallas Holocaust Museum