Overview of Madame Tussauds Museum:
Madame Tussauds is a wax museum originally located in London and currently has branches in a number of major cities. It was established by the wax sculptor Marie Tussaud. Madame Tussauds is a major and well known tourist attraction in London, showing waxworks of famous historical and royal figures, sports stars, movie stars and infamous murderers. Madame Tussauds museum is owned and operated by Merlin Entertainments which is a British operator for visitors’ attractions and it is the largest company of its kind in Europe and the second largest company of its kind globally after Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
Who is Madame Tussaud?
Madame Tussaud refers to the woman named Marie Tussaud who was born as Marie Grosholtz in Strasbourg, Francein 1761. Tussaud’s mother worked as a housekeeper at Dr. Philippe Curtius house in Bern, Switzerland, who worked as a physician and who was skilled in wax modelling and who also taught Tussaud the art of making wax models.
The history and the story of Madame Tussaud and her museum:
Tussaud was able to create her first wax man figure of Voltaire in 1777. She was able to create wax models for other famous people like Benjamin Franklin and Jean Jacques Rousseau.
During the French Revolution she did wax models for many famous victims. It was recorded in her diaries that she had searched through the dead bodies to find the heads of many executed people from which she did death masks and her death masks were carried up in revolutionary flags through parades in the streets of Paris. After the death of Dr. Philippe Curtius in 1794, she inherited his huge collection of wax models and spent 33 years travelling all over Europe.
In 1795, she was married to Francois Tussaud from which her name became “Madame Tussaud’s”.
In 1802, Tussaud received an invitation from Paul Philidor who was a magic lantern and a phantasmagoria pioneer to exhibit her work besides his show at the Lyceum Theatre in London which she accepted and went to London in that year. Philidor did not pay her well and took half of her profits and due to the wars of Napoleon she was not able to return back to France; so she decided to travel across Great Britain and Ireland to exhibit her wax collection
In 1831, she started to take short leases at the upper floor of Baker Street Bazaar which was located on the west side of Baker Street, Dorset Street and King Street and that became her first permanent home in 1836.
Tussaud opened her museum in 1835 where she settled in Baker Street in London. This museum had wax models for victims of the French Revolution and other figures of criminals and murderers.
Also, other famous figures were added like Sir Walter Scott and Horatio Nelson. Some of the wax sculptures that were created by Marie Tussaud herself are still existing. Her museum included originally 400 different figures but unfortunately a fire damage in 1925 followed by German bombs in 1941 destroyed most of these figures. However, the casts survived and that allowed those historical sculptures to be remade and they exist in the museum’s history exhibit. The oldest figure was that for Madame Du Barry and other figures dating back to the era of Tussaud included those for George 3 and Robespierre.
Tussaud created a self-portrait in 1842 which can be seen at the entrance of the museum.
Marie Tussaud died on April 15th, 1850 while she was sleeping.
Branches of Madame Tussaud’s museum all over the world:
Madame Tussaud’s wax museum has now grown to become one of the major tourist attractions in London.It expanded and now having branchesin Europe, Asia, Australia and America:
Branches in Europe include:
Branches in Asia include:
- Hong Kong
Branches in Australia include:
Branches in America include:
- Las Vegas
- New York
- San Francisco
- Washington D.C.
There is a plan for opening more and more branches for the museum in other cities all over the world.
Steps for making a wax figure in Madame Tussaud’s museum?
First of all, the sculptors take hundreds of accurate measurements carefully with traditional callipers and measuring tapes, along with a library of reference shots portraying the selected pose.
Each figure is sculpted in clay perfectly which is used to create a mould from which the wax figure is created. 150kg of clay is used in the process of sculpting.
A ‘piece mould’ for the head is made of fine quality plaster to reproduce the surface of the clay, which is then cast into a mix of Japan wax and beeswax. The head moulds takes a long time because they are made of many separate pieces. Plaster piece moulds are used whichdate back to 200 years old and fresh wax models can be taken from these originals moulds many times.
Molten wax which is colored with a dye and heated up to a temperature of 165° F. is then added into the mould. The wax is then left to cool down.
5- Removing the Mould:
After cooling for an hour and half; the pieces of the mould are pulled away carefully to reveal the wax head. At this stage the surface of the wax is interrupted by tiny ridges formed by the joints between each section of the mould. The sculptor carefully removes these layers. The head still retains the wax eyes which are melted away to make room for the acrylic eyes. The teethare treated in a similar way.
6- Hair Insertion:
Expert hairstylists imitatethe star’s hair right down to the last one. Ethically human hair is inserted strand by strand and then cut to style. It is an incredibly delicate process that takes around 6 weeks to insert a full head of hair.
The figure is colored by a team of make-up artists using 20 different colors to recreate lifelike and natural looking skin tones. 10 layers of oil paints are used to build up layers of a certaincolor on the face to give a translucency to the skin tones and a realistic color and texture. Every wrinkle, mole, freckle and dimple is accurately replicated.
8- The Finished Figure
It takes four months for a specialist to create a Madame Tussauds wax figure. Each figure costs about £150,000.
Madame Tussauds continues to add figures regularly reflecting contemporary public opinion and celebrity popularity. A visit to Madame Tussauds is a must where you can witness two centuries of fame and enjoy an unforgettable experience.