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posted: 3/5/2010 12:01 AM

Photo exhibit gives look at prewar life of Anne Frank

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  • Anne Frank, left, and her older sister, Margot, at the beach.

      Anne Frank, left, and her older sister, Margot, at the beach.


The diary Anne Frank kept while hiding with her family from the horrors of Nazi Germany during World War II posthumously made the young Jewish girl's fate known to the world.

Now area residents can gain a look at the very different life Anne led before the war when "Anne Frank: A Private Photo Album" opens with a reception at 6 p.m. today at the Naperville Fine Art Center and Gallery, 508 N. Center St., Naperville. The exhibit will be displayed through April 2.

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The photos of Anne as a small child peacefully asleep, on the beach with her sister and shopping with her mother give no hint of the terrors that forced the family into hiding in Amsterdam in an effort to escape the Holocaust.

The normality of Anne's early life as portrayed in the photos fascinated Deborah Venezia, executive director of the Naperville Art League, so much that she spent two years negotiating to obtain the exhibit.

"I think a lot of people are intrigued by her story," Venezia said. "I had never thought about Anne Frank having a normal life."

Venezia first learned about the exhibit through a newspaper article when it was in the Lake Zurich library two years ago. Finding the exhibit was sponsored by The Anne Frank Center USA, she contacted the center about bringing the photos to Naperville and was quoted a price far beyond what the art league could afford.

Venezia didn't give up.

"It haunted me. I couldn't let it go," she said. "After two years, I wore them down and we reached a figure we could work with."

The exhibit, which premiered in 2004 to commemorate Anne Frank's 75th birthday, is in Illinois for only the second time.

The 70 black-and-white photos were taken by Anne's father, Otto Frank, an amateur photographer. He was the only one of the family of four to survive the Nazi concentration camps after they were betrayed.

After the war, Anne's diary and the photos were returned to Otto Frank and he had her journal published as "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl."

Venezia said the art gallery is extending its hours while the exhibit is here so more people can see it. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, or by group appointment.

"I'm hopeful we'll be able to attract the attention of people who lived through that era," she said. "We would like to see school field trips, synagogues, churches, individuals."

A $10 donation is requested for the reception, which will include refreshments provided by Angeli's. The exhibit itself probably will carry a suggested donation of $5, Venezia said.

"We're having a donation jar, but it's up to the individual," she said. "I think everybody ought to see it."

If you go

What: "Anne Frank: A Private Photo Album"

When: Opening reception, 6 to 8 p.m. today; exhibit on display through April 2

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Naperville Fine Art Center and Gallery, 508 N. Center St., Naperville

Cost: $10 reception; $5 suggested donation for exhibit

Info: (630) 355-2530

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