The Museum of Texas Tech is the first stop for “Let Me Be Myself-The Life Story of Anne Frank.” A previous version of the exhibition toured the world for about 10 years but needed changes. This one about the young girl who in many countries has become a symbol of Jews’ mass murder by the Nazis is brand new.
Having the exhibition here is the result of one Texas Tech professor’s pursuit.
“We think we understand some of the major factors that were responsible for why the Holocaust happened to begin with and what was the social, political climate at the time and the ability of people to respond the way that they did. Fast forward to today, we are in a climate where I think we need to look around us and not revisit certain things of history. So, it’s good to be remembering some of the things of the past so we don’t make the same mistakes today,” Michael San Francisco, Dean of the Honors College, says.
Most US children know of and have read The Diary of Anne Frank, but San Francisco is a native of India and had not read it. Two years ago while home after his mother’s death, he found a copy on her bookshelf and finished it on his return flight. Within months began working to bring an exhibition about Frank to Lubbock.
“It spoke to me in a unique way. I’m not a historian, I’m a microbiologist, so yeah, it had an impact,” he says.
Jill Hoffman, interim executive director of the museum, says three-quarters of the educational exhibition is about Frank, the people who helped her family, the experience of hiding for two years and her time in a concentration camp. The remainder of the exhibition highlights current times.
“It makes a great point—this level of hatred didn’t stop when the war ended, we still have the problem. So, it highlights some contemporary people who face racism or bullying or prejudice everyday. I guess as a world we didn’t learn our lesson, so we still need to be taught and that’s why things like this are important,” Hoffman says.
The contemporary part of the exhibition contains stories of young people today, exploring four general themes drawn from Frank’s story. Those are identity, individuals as group members, discrimination and response.
Large-size pictures of Frank with text overlain are displayed on numerous panels in one of the museum’s galleries in this limited- run exhibition.
“There’s something about this, the combination of the text and the photos they’ve selected, it really gets to the point. There’s no pussy-footing around, you get it. It’s just like a hammer shot, each panel we stand in front of.”
Leading up to the exhibition’s opening, people involved with its creation came to Lubbock to train docents, who are all Honors College students. “They were immersed in these ideas and so if you want a tour of that exhibit, you can really have a tour with each one of those eleven students and you’d get a different spin on it. It would all be the same story but it would be a unique perspective that they took from the tour.”
San Francisco is working to arrange for Lubbock school district students to come take in the exhibition. The exhibition is being co-sponsored by the Honors College and the office of university president.
Hoffman says those who helped the Frank family and kept the secret of their hiding safe were heroes, much like those who stand up to bullies and decry racism today.
“I think the exhibit really tries to emphasize we all have a role to play. You may encounter hate and prejudice in any number of ways, you may not be as overt in your efforts to stop it, but if you do what’s comfortable to you or what you think is needed at the time, what you can do, that counts. Every little bit counts.”
The exhibition concludes at the close of business Friday.