By Amy Wenk
Sandy Springs might attract more tourists soon.
City supporters are in negotiations with the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust to acquire the “Anne Frank in the World: 1929-1945” exhibit, now in downtown Decatur. The commission is looking for a new home for the exhibit because its lease expires in December.
“We are very hopeful that we will be able to accommodate the exhibit,” Mayor Eva Galambos said. “I just think it is a fantastic drawing card. The exhibit hosts hundreds of kids and adults throughout the year that come from all over the state. It’s a very educational and a very moving exhibit, so attendance records are very good.”
Although the exhibit would not receive city funding, the commission has met with Galambos and City Council members to discuss the move, said commission Vice Chairman Stanley Lefco, a Sandy Springs lawyer.
“She and the City Council are very enthusiastic about bringing this exhibit, which is the largest (Anne Frank) exhibit outside of Amsterdam, to Sandy Springs,” he said, noting no other cities have expressed interest. “This will be the first true tourist attraction for the city.”
The exhibit consists of more than 600 photographs and 8,000 words. It chronicles Frank’s life from her freedom in 1920s Germany, to exile in the Netherlands, to hiding in a secret annex above her father’s business in Amsterdam, to her death in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
“Anne Frank is a very significant historical person because of her diary,” Lefco said. More than 27 million copies of “The Diary of Anne Frank” have been sold.
“The whole purpose of the exhibit is to teach about tolerance and prejudice,” he said.
The exhibit opened at Kennesaw State University more than six years ago. It relocated to Decatur three years ago, and attendance jumped, Lefco said. “Being in a central location like Sandy Springs, we really think it will draw even more than what we drew in Decatur,” he said. “I think it will be terrific. I think the city sees it as a plus, and we definitely see it as a plus for us.”
The exhibit requires about 2,000 square feet and $50,000 a year. The money covers staff, security and maintenance, Lefco said. Since the exhibit charges no admission, those funds must be raised through individual or corporate donations.
Dist. 2 Councilwoman Dianne Fries said the exhibit draws 60,000 visitors a year.
“We’re in the process of trying to find them space, and we’re in negotiations with the real estate company,” said Mayor Eva Galambos, noting a public announcement should come in 30 days. “We’re also organizing a fundraising committee. It’s a special group that is being organized to raise the money for the Anne Frank exhibit in Sandy Springs.”
Galambos said no lease agreements are final, but Fries said the exhibit could be located near a new Hospitality & Tourism welcome center, although the two are separate projects.
She said Sandy Springs Hospitality & Tourism is looking to move to the Parkside shopping center on Roswell Road just north of I-285; the center houses such businesses as Broadway Grill and Lefont Theaters. The move, Fries said, would give the welcome center a more “visitor-friendly” location than its current home on the second floor of the Pine State Mortgage building at the corner of Roswell Road and Hammond Drive.
The welcome center and the Anne Frank exhibit “ought to be close together” so they can benefit from each other’s visitors, she said.
“If both projects pan out, I think it is going to be great for Sandy Springs,” Fries said. “It is going to be great for tourism. It will be great for the Anne Frank exhibit.”