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Public invited to see scale model of Anne Frank House

Margaret Allen
Hays Daily News
Dave VanDoren with his Global 3D-Arts' scale model of the Anne Frank House museum in Amsterdam.

Dave VanDoren toured the Anne Frank House museum in Amsterdam nearly a decade ago. At the time, VanDoren, of Hays, had no idea that the Anne Frank Center in New York City would hire his company, Global 3D-Arts, to make a scale model in 2020 of the famous house.

The model, which will go on tour around the United States in 2021, is on display at the Global 3D-Arts office in the Hadley Building, 205 E. 7th, Suite 100.

“We would invite whoever is interested to bring their family, bring their kids, and have a look at it because it’s a unique model that should be of interest to a lot of grade school and high school students,” VanDoren said Friday at his office. “Especially if they’ve read the book, 'The Diary of Anne Frank,' or seen the movie — there are two good ones.”

Global 3D-Arts will have the scale model at least another month or two, he said.

The model, laser cut from plastic and wood and weighing well over 100 pounds, exactly duplicates the secret annex in the back of a spice warehouse in Amsterdam where 14-year-old Anne Frank and her family lived for 24 months while hiding from the Gestapo.

The Nazis, who invaded the Netherlands in 1940, discovered the Jewish family in 1944 after an anonymous tipster divulged the hiding place. All but Anne’s father, Otto Frank, later perished at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Global 3D-Arts' scale model of the Anne Frank House museum in Amsterdam.

Designed as a traveling exhibit, the model was scheduled to go on tour in Texas in late 2020, but that was postponed by the pandemic. The next stop was scheduled to be North Carolina, but that’s also been delayed.

Furnishings in the model were 3D printed and then finished and painted by hand, VanDoren said.

Laser cutting, 3D printing

The Anne Frank house is one of the latest for Global 3D-Arts, which has produced many such models of houses, hotels, condominiums and other big construction projects.

The company has been making scale models of buildings and other printed 3D items for 20 years. Prices range from about $15,000 for the Anne Frank House, to more or less, depending on the size and complexity.

To make models, electronic architectural drawings are entered into a laser cutter, which follows the pattern of the drawings. From there the various pieces are cut to fit from a sheet of heavy-duty acrylic plastic. The pieces are assembled, held together mostly with glue but in some cases by screws. Any piece that shows is painted by hand with the correct colors and textures.

While some components are contracted offshore, many of the final details are done in Hays.

“It’s a tedious process and requires a lot of patience and tedious art work,” VanDoren said.

FHSU campus model

The company’s next project is updating its scale model of the Fort Hays State University campus. Its first one, created 10 years ago, has been on display on campus at Forsythe Library.

“Hammond Hall was not even built yet at that point, but we were able to include Hammond Hall because they had the drawings for it,” VanDoren said. “Now they’ve built a lot of new structures on the campus. We just got the drawings from the university architect, and we’ll be working on that as time allows this year.”

He hopes to have it completed by the fall, he said.

Architects and lawyers

Global 3D-Arts started when VanDoren created scale models for his own real estate development and construction businesses.

Early models were made by hand from wood, but laser and 3D printing technologies have changed that.

Then the company began making them for others. In the early days they advertised at trade shows. Now customers find the company through its website.

“It fits into construction and redevelopment to be able to present things in a 3D manner, whether it’s animations, or renderings, or scale models,” VanDoren said. “It will show what a project will look like when it’s finished. This is often done for marketing, fundraising, like some church models, where they were raising funds to actually get the building built. It helps to get people to understand what they’re raising money for.”

Or to visualize a potential property purchase. Global 3D-Arts is working on a project for a developer in Florida for a six-story condominium building near Disney World.

“They’re actually going to have two different sales centers, one in Orlando and one in Miami, showing this development,” VanDoren said. “That will be their primary sales tool, to pre-sale these condos as construction is going on. That’s probably the most common use of models.”

Global 3D-Arts also has done wind towers, nuclear power plants for training employees, and even blow ups of minute items, such as a model of a microchip for attorneys in a lawsuit.

Now they do a lot of repeat projects for architects and developers.

For the Anne Frank House museum in Amsterdam, VanDoren recalls being at the museum eight or nine years ago.

“We stood in line for 45 minutes to tour the museum,” he said. “Having been there it really came home. It was quite an experience to see that, and then have an opportunity to recreate it.”