Frank hid with her family and friends in the secret annex of an Amsterdam
factory for two years before being arrested by the Nazis. Her diary written
during that time is world-famous. She later died in a concentration camp.
Anne Frank – A History for Today at the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery
Everyone has a perspective on history: a personal and cultural experience that creates a point of view distinct from anyone else’s. One of the great challenges in society is coming to understand other perspectives. And one of the tools to enhance that understanding is art.
“We are all creative beings,” says Lynn LeCorre, education coordinator at the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery. “We need self-expression.”
That’s part of the harmonious blend of history, culture and art at the museum and gallery. They’re easy subjects to link together, LeCorre says. She effortlessly lists off past shows that revealed history and culture through art, such as beaded clothing in the Metis exhibition Hiding in Plain Sight, or the “trench art” of front-line soldiers in Keepsakes of Conflict.
Art crosses all cultures and all definable groups, so we can use it to communicate, understand, and unify, LeCorre explains.
Another example is the upcoming travelling exhibition, Anne Frank – A History for Today. The collection from Anne Frank House in Amsterdam will occupy the MAG’s galleries from Jan. 12 to March 22. The panels and artifacts won’t arrive accompanied by crates of artwork, but the MAG is ensuring there will be a significant art component.
High school students were invited not only to become exhibition guides, as recommended by Anne Frank House, but to contribute visual, literary and performing art projects as well. The museum ran several workshops to help initiate original contributions from more than 20 students. Some are working on paintings or mixed media pieces, while others are creating bound journals for recording their own thoughts like Anne Frank did. Another group is developing videos, while a few more writing songs or stories they will present while leading tours.
“It’s been a lot of work,” LeCorre says, “but it’s been really positive and successful.”
Anne Frank House emphasizes youth involvement, since Frank was a teenager when she wrote her now-famous diary while in hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam.
“They believe that peer education works best.”
Teenagers can teach their peers about one of the most famous victims of the genocide, who died while in a German concentration camp. It provides another generation with the stories of the Second World War and the consequences of Nazi beliefs.
“I think most of (the students) were interested because they could see the relevance to racism and discrimination still happening today,” LeCorre says. “History is doomed to repeat itself if we don’t learn from the past.”
All of the artworks and performances will of course be related to the topic, but LeCorre anticipates some will also involve the students’ own personal experiences. Another underappreciated benefit of art is that it can be healing, she notes.
It is stressful waiting to see the final results, LeCorre says, since the MAG has a responsibility to maintain high-quality standards, but still exciting and worthwhile to the exhibit. Community stories need to be told just as much as Anne Frank’s.
“Your voice is just as important as our voice.”