Madame Tussauds is a famous wax museum in London with branches in a number of major cities.
It was founded by wax sculptor Anna Maria “Marie” Tussaud .
Marie Tussaud was born as Marie Grosholtz in 1761 in Strasbourg, France. Her mother worked as a housekeeper for Dr. Philippe Curtius in Bern, Switzerland, who was a physician skilled in wax modelling. Curtius taught Tussaud the art of wax modelling.
Young Marie’s first sculpture was Francois Voltaire. She made it at the tender age of 16.
Tussaud was perceived as a royal sympathizer and during the French Revolution she was imprisoned for three months awaiting execution, but was released after the intervention of an influential friend.
She inherited the doctor’s vast collection of wax models following his death in 1794, and spent the next
33 years travelling around Europe.
By 1835, Marie had settled down in Baker Street, London and opened a museum.
Ever since it first opened on 1835, Madame Tussauds has been leaving visitors excited and star struck with the wide array of A-list celebrities featured in the wax museum.
With 14 interactive areas, Madame Tussauds London combines glitz, glamour and incredible history with more than 300 stunning wax figures.
Today’s wax figures at Tussauds include historical and royal figures, film stars, sports stars, and famous murderers.
Some sculptures still exist that were done by Marie Tussaud herself. The gallery originally contained some 400 different figures, but fire damage in 1925 coupled with German bombs in 1941 has rendered most of these older models defunct. The casts themselves have survived, allowing the historical waxworks to be remade, and these can be seen in the museum’s history exhibit.
You can see Madame Tussaud in her own museum; she did her own portrait in wax just 8 years till she died at the ripe rather old age of 89.
The oldest figure on display is that of Madame du Barry, the work of Curtius from 1765 and part of the waxworks left to Tussaud at his death.
At 4.5 meters (14.7 feet) high, The Incredible Hulk is the largest ever figure made by Madame Tussauds.
The smallest figure Madame Tussauds has ever made is Tinker Bell.
Mother Teresa declined to get sculpted for the museum as she believed that her work was more important than her physical being. One of the only person to ever do so.
In July 2008, Madame Tussauds’ Berlin branch became embroiled in controversy when a 41-year-old German man brushed past two guards and decapitated a wax figure depicting Adolf Hitler.
In January 2016, the statue of Adolf Hitler was removed from the London museum in response to an open letter sent by a staff writer of The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, followed by significant support for its removal from social media.
In 2010, Ozzy Osbourne posed as himself and scared unsuspecting visitors.
The figure making process for Madame Tussauds is about four months long and each figure costs about $300,000 to produce start to finish.
More than 250 precise measurements and 180 photographs are taken of a subject to accurately create the figure. If the subject is unavailable for these measurements, the studio artists study hundreds of photographs and watch hours of video to create the figure.
All wax figure are made 2% larger than the actual person because this much is how the wax is expected to melt during the entire process.
Each strand of hair is inserted individually – it takes approximately 5 weeks to complete. There are approximately 100,000 hairs on each head.
Red silk thread is used to create the veins in each eyeball. Knotted rope is used to create the look of veins on the body.
All figures have their hair washed and make up retouched regularly.
Madame Tussauds wax museum is a major tourist attraction in London.
The first overseas branch of Madame Tussauds was opened in Amsterdam in 1970.
Since opening its doors in 2000, Madame Tussauds New York has quickly become one of the most popular Madame Tussauds locations in the world.
There are currently 24 Madame Tussauds worldwide, including seven in the USA, and museums in Beijing, Tokyo and Sydney, Australia.
It used to be known as “Madame Tussaud’s“; the apostrophe is no longer used.
Madame Tussauds is owned by a leisure company called Merlin Entertainments, following the acquisition of The Tussauds Group in May 2007.
In Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps, Mr. Hannay tells Pamela that his uncle is featured in Madame Tussaud’s murderer section and that one day she will be able to take her grandchildren to Madame Tussaud’s to see him.
Madame Tussauds is featured in an Assassin’s Creed Unity side mission, where the player is tasked with retrieving the severed heads of which Madame Tussauds was commissioned to make replicas.