More than 12,300 visitors took in the Anne Frank House exhibit at the Stratford
Perth Museum through four and a half months this summer, more than three times as many as visited the museum throughout all of 2014. (Contributed photo)
By Steve Rice
When the Stratford Perth Museum opened its Anne Frank House exhibit on June 6 it quickly became apparent that a few changes would be necessary.
“We opened that exhibit at 9 o’clock and at about 10:30 a volunteer came to me and said, ‘we need to do two things right away,’” general manager John Kastner recalled Thursday. “They said, ‘we need to get some kleenex in the building, and we need to come up with a way where people can leave for a few minutes and come back in.’
“Those are the two things that were the most telling for me.”
The heart-wrenching and inspiring exhibit Anne Frank: A History for Today, was witnessed by a record audience of about 12,330 from the June opening through to this past Sunday. That’s more than triple the total of 3,800 who passed through the museum doors over the entire 12 months of 2014.
It’s double the museum’s projection of 6,000 visitors, calculated with the hope that perhaps 10% of the 60,000 people who watched the Stratford Festival’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank might also visit the museum.
It also established a new Canadian record for attendance at the traveling Anne Frank House exhibit.
By the numbers, the exhibit was undoubtedly a success. But Kastner said that comments on social media, in emails and in the museum’s guest book show it was equally successful as an exhibit that was “very meaningful for our visitors and given current global events, very relevant.”
Since forming a relationship with the Festival in 2014, the museum’s numbers have gone up dramatically. Just 853 visited during the 12 months of 2013.
Kastner said visitors this year came from such far off places as British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Texas and Louisiana. But there was also a large influx of Perth County residents later in the season, many of whom said they’d never been to the museum before and left impressed with what they’d seen.
“One of the real benefits of having 12,000 people through is now 12,000 more people know where we are and for 99% of the people, I hope, it was a positive thing. It puts us on people’s radar as something to do,” Kastner said.
“Obviously the museum is a lot busier in the summer now because the last two years we’ve presented exhibits that are connected to the Festival. It’s a great relationship, certainly from our end, and the feedback I get from the Festival is that they think it’s positive as well. When people come to the Festival, it’s something else for them to do that’s related to the Festival. And it’s in keeping with the mission of the museum.”
Besides the Anne Frank exhibit, the Festival had an exhibit entitled Order to Disorder at the museum in 2015.
Next summer the Festival will have an exhibit about Kingship, while the museum will have a second Festival-related exhibit that will be announced next month.
Kastner said there are already talks about some kind of partnering for exhibits in 2017 when Canada will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation.
Anne Frank: A History for Today, was largely funded by a very successful fundraising campaign by Perth County’s Dutch community, spearheaded by Harry Visser and Johan Bossers.
The museum also received a grant from Canada’s Ministry of Heritage, while many local businesses made donations or significant in-kind contributions.
“To see a whole community work together on one common project is really beyond expectation,” said Julie Couture, coordinator of Canadian educational projects at the Anne Frank House. “So much credit goes to the staff of the museum, the colleagues from the Stratford Festival, the devoted guides, the passionate visitors and to the community for its support.”
Julie Guinard, museum and collection coordinator at Montreal’s Holocaust Memorial Centre, expressed appreciation that their artifacts reached a new audience and hoped they helped visitors “understand the impact of the Holocaust on individuals, families and communities.”
This exhibit traces the history of the Perth Regiment from its inception in 1866 to present day.
The themes of duty, sacrifice, valour, brotherhood, and remembrance are used to highlight the development of the Regiment from its earliest days as a volunteer militia company fighting in the Fenian Raids, through to its role in the liberation of the Netherlands at the end of World War II.
This exhibit showcases objects, letters, photos, and personal stories from throughout the regiment’s history.
Why “Perth UP”? The Maple Leaf “UP” was an ubiquitous marker during the Second World War pointing the way to Canadian front lines. “61” represented the Perth Regiment.
The Stratford Perth Museum and the Anne Frank House have agreed to extend the exhibit,
Anne Frank: A History for Today, through Sunday Oct. 18.
The very well-attended exhibit, presented in conjunction with the Anne Frank House and the Stratford Festival, was scheduled to close Oct. 12.
“It’s amazing to see the scale the project took on at the Stratford Perth Museum,” said Julie Couture, Canadian co-ordinator of the Anne Frank House.
“All the wonderful docents took so many visitors from all ages through the intimate life of this little girl. So many people connected to this story through their own history made this project really special.”
The exhibit opened June 6 and has attracted over 10,000 visitors to the Museum.
“For those who haven’t had the chance to learn more about Anne Frank, we are happy to be able to extend this exhibition at the Stratford Perth Museum until October 18th,” added Couture.
“We’re very proud and humbled to have been able to present this exhibit,” said John Kastner, Stratford Perth Museum general manager. “It’s an important and incredibly powerful exhibit and it will be a long time, if ever, before this exhibit returns to this area. That’s why we are so pleased to have been able to arrange an extension.”
l The Museum has extended its summer hours and is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, including Sundays and
Thanksgiving while the Anne Frank House exhibit is on display. On Oct. 19 the museum reverts to its
winter hours – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays and holidays
Tickets can be purchased in advance at stratfordperthmuseum.ca or at the door
Admission to the Museum is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and students, $15 for a family (plus HST)
The Anne Frank exhibit is augmented by 17 artifacts from the Montreal Memorial Holocaust Centre
The Stratford Festival’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank closes Oct. 10
For more information: Contact John Kastner, General Manager, Stratford Perth Museum or 519-393-5311
Bob and Darlene James of Dundas, Ontario not only enjoyed their visit to the Stratford Perth Museum this morning — but they were able to charge up their electric smart car at the same time. Thanks to Ideal Supply the Museum now has an electric car charging station.
What’s new at the Stratford Perth Museum?
How about an electric car charger!
Thanks to an initiative, as well as a generous donation from Listowel-based company Ideal Supply, motorists with electric cars are now able to charge their vehicles at the Stratford Perth Museum.
The charger is free to use.
“Rural areas in general – and that area of Perth county in particular – is underserviced for access to Electric Vehicle Charging Stations,” said Tim MacDonald, president and CEO of Ideal Supply.
“Installing one at the Stratford Perth Museum seemed like a great way to draw attention and traffic to this incredible facility – while supporting local owners of electric vehicles and visitors to the Museum. By collaborating with Leviton and Culliton we were able to make it happen.”
Leviton is the maker of the electric car charger and Culliton did the installation.
The Museum is happy to be joining the electric car-charging network.
“From the Museum’s perspective it is very much in keeping with our environmentally aware approach,” said John Kastner, general manager at the Stratford Perth Museum.
The Museum is located just west of Stratford at 4275 Huron Road (Highway 8, Line 34).
The parking spot closest to the road is outfitted with the electric car charger.
Holocaust survivor Claire Baum, who survived the darkest days in Rotterdam’s history, spoke of her life experiences to a sold out audience at the Stratford Perth Museum July 23..
Ms. Baum’s presentation was the third in our Anne Frank House Speakers Series, following Julie Couture from the Anne Frank House and Stratford family historian Tine Buechler.
There are three Speakers Series events remaining this summer.
Len Rudner, an expert on Jewish relations and security issues, August 5
Sara Farb, who plays Anne in the Stratford Festival production of The Diary of Anne Frank, August 16
Jason Schwartz, author and photographer – The Ghosts That Haunt Us / Portraits of Holocaust Survivors, September 24
The Anne Frank House Speakers Series is generously supported by Bradshaws.
Click here to purchase tickets Purchase Speakers Series tickets
Bradshaws blog points to combining of efforts by Stratford Perth Museum, Stratford Festival and Gallery Stratford to remember the Holocaust.