Kiwi North Museum in Whangarei was no stranger to Anne Frank. In 2010 the venue hosted the previous iteration of our acclaimed current exhibition: Anne Frank – A History for Today. They were therefore delighted when Anne returned to their venue in early October 2018 and sad to see her depart in early February 2019.
During Anne’s stay, Kiwi North Museum had nearly 10,000 visitors and a large proportion of these were from Whangarei, Northland and Auckland. 21 peer guides from local schools presented the exhibition to nearly 500 of their classmates, ensuring that today’s youngsters engaged with Anne’s story as well as the wider issues of discrimination and intolerance in our modern world.
Reflecting on the exhibition’s impact during its stay at Kiwi North Museum, Operations Manager Allie Fry commented that Anne Frank: Let Me Be Myself “both isolates and unites.” She saw people “in total silence and alone, even if they came with others, each in their own little world” as well as “children as young as eight sit and watch the full 30-minute video, totally absorbed.” But she also saw visitors talking about what they had seen, perhaps because the exhibition had given them “so much food for thought.”
European visitors to the museum were astounded when they encountered Anne in the far north of New Zealand. “They asked why we would show this exhibition here in Whangarei, in New Zealand? So, we talked about New Zealand’s involvement in the project but also explained that there were lessons to learn from the past: how discrimination is universal and why this exhibition relates to today’s youth.” In closing, Allie commented that “it was wonderful to host Anne again. It generated some interesting conversations in the museum and out in the community, evoked memories and brought more than a few tears. Most importantly, it had social impact – just what museums are all about!”