It’d be easy to walk right by the Anne Frank House and not realize what it is, except for the line snaking out the entrance (which you can’t see in this photo, but it’s there! It’s off to the right, entering the building next door that has since become part of the museum).
Looking up at Otto Frank’s former Opekta offices
from a canal boat on Prinsengracht. The hiding place
(Het Achterhuis, or Secret Annex) is in the back.
Anne Frank and her family once walked through these doors.
On the advice of a couple of friends, I showed up at the house an hour or so before closing time, when they said you’re more likely to walk right in even without a reservation and have the place relatively to yourself (meaning you can linger over what interests you and double back if you like, without feeling you’re in anyone’s way). And it’s true. Even making a res online ahead of time and skipping the ticket line outside doesn’t mitigate the crowdedness once you’re inside—unless you go in the evening, when everybody else is out having dinner. This strategy worked so well, in fact, that I visited the museum twice; once on the last Saturday night of August, when the house was open until 10 p.m., and once again the night before I left, when it closed at 9.
You’re not allowed to take photographs inside, but The Secret Annex Online takes you through a 360° tour of some of the rooms in the hiding place, include Anne’s bedroom along with the attic (which is off-limits to visitors). Some of the smallest things about the annex were the most moving: the pencil marks showing how much taller Anne and her sister, Margot, grew while in hiding (Margot grew about 2 inches, while Anne shot up about 5!); or the very postcards and magazine cutouts that Anne plastered on the walls of her room, typical teenager-style.