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People have been enjoying the wax sculptures at Madame Tussauds museums for generations. It is a major tourist attraction in London, United Kingdom and a number of other large cities around the world.
The idea for a wax museum came from Marie Tussaud. She was born during the 1760s in Strasbourg, France. Her birth name was Marie Grosholtz. She learned how to do wax modeling from her mother's employer. He was a physician named Philippe Curtis. He taught Tussaud all the techniques associated with creating a wax figure. Her first wax sculpture was of Voltaire. She made this during the late 1770s. During the French Revolution, Tussaud would look carefully examine corpses. She was looking for prominent French citizens who had been executed. Once they were found, Tussaud would make a death mask of them and create a wax figure. Dr. Philippe Curtis passed away during the 1790s. He left Tussaud his large collection of wax models. She spent the following 32 years traveling Europe and putting them on display. Tussaud was married in 1795 to Francois Tussaud. Together they created the traveling show known as Madame Tussaud's. Her collection was on permanent display for the first time on Baker Street in London during1836. One of the museum's most popular attractions at the time was Madame Tussauds Chamber of Horrors. Marie Tussaud passed away in 1850. She left detailed memoirs about the creation of her wax models.
Marie Tussauds museum provided numerous wax sculptures of victims from the French Revolution. It also contained figures of well-known criminals and murders. She provided sculptures of Sir Walter Scott, Lord Nelson, and many others. Over the years, the museum has had hundreds of different figures. In 1925, the museum experienced fire damage. During the German bombing of London in 1941, the museum was damaged, and many of the older figures were destroyed. The casts used in the creation of the older wax sculptures survived. This made it possible for them to be recreated. The oldest wax figure on display is that of Madame du Barry. This woman was the last mistress of Louis XV of France. Du Barry lost her life during the Reign of Terror that took place during the French Revolution.
Major Tourist Attraction
Madame Tussaud's museums have become major tourist attractions around the world. It has museums in London's Planetarium, Sydney, Shanghai, Prague, New York City, Hong Kong, San Francisco, Singapore, Washington DC and other major cities in various countries. People who visit a Madam Tussauds wax museum today will see figures of movie stars, sports heroes, famous criminals, historical figures and more. It is currently owned and operated by Merlin Entertainment. This company obtained it in 2007 from The Tussauds Group.
Wax Figure Creation
The figures used for the museums have been created from beeswax. It can be done by casting the figure in molds. The wax used must be cut and shaped at room temperature. The wax will melt in extreme temperatures. The wax substance mixes will with any type of coloring. Surface tints, the figure's texture as well as consistency can be adjusted by adding different substances such as fats and oils. Wax figures have been created since the middle ages. This process was used to make death masks during the times of ancient Rome. It was common for death masks of beloved Roman ancestors to be put on display in Roman homes.
Renaissance Wax Figures
During the Italian Renaissance, wax modeling was very important. Many of the great Italian masters were able to make very impressive pieces of work utilizing the properties of the wax. The early metalwork and bronzes figures of this time were cast by using wax models. During the 16th and 17th centuries, some of the best quality wax figures in history were created. This was also a time when many of the most popular wax figures were created by women artists.
Modern Wax Figures
Today, most wax figures are not created as fine art. They are made to function as a popular attraction. Many of the wax figures currently on display are designed to have mechanical motion. This has been available since the late 1800s. People who see a waxwork exhibition at Madame Tussauds are able to see wax figures that utilize robot technology as well as audio-animatronics. This gives the wax figures a very life-like appearance. Many of the figures today are created using body casting. The substances used are often silicone and rubber molds combined with alginate. Hand molding is used to make the best possible form and avoid distortions.
Wax Figure Maintenance
Prior to a Madam Tussauds museum being open for visitors, a team of makeup artists work on the figures to make certain the appearance is perfect. The skin is touched up with makeup, and the clothes worn by the figures must be clean and pressed. The jewelry is polished, and all the props on display are cleaned and adjusted. This level of upkeep needs to be done regularly. People taking pictures of the figures daily can impact the appearance of the figures.
Many people are impressed by how the hair on the museum's figures looks so authentic. The reason is real hair is used. Each figure in the Madame Tussauds wax museum has human hair. Each hair is individually attached to the figure. This process may take over four weeks to complete just one head of hair. Prior to the figures being put on display at a museum, professional hair stylists create the appropriate hair style. This hair is regularly washed and given as much care as may be required to maintain the figure's hairstyle.
Each of the figures in a Madame Tussauds wax museum cost over $120,000 to create. The process of making each figure may last four months or longer from inception to completion. The accessories found on each of the models may come directly from the real person the figure imitates. Some of the accessories are obtained from auctions, and others are donated. The nail polish found on the figures of Ivana Trump and Joan Rivers come from their personal collection. Each felt it would enhance the appearance of their figures.
A Madame Tussauds museum has been seen in many television programs and movies. A scene of Doctor Who took place at Madame Tussauds. It was also featured in the series “Life After People” provided by the History Channel. The Madame Tussauds in New York was featured in an episode of NBC's The Today Show. It was also featured in the movie “Shanghai Knights.” The Madame Tussauds in Las Vegas was shown on an episode of “Parks and Recreation” as well as an episode of “Ghost Adventures” on the Travel Channel.
Visitor Contact Information
MADAME TUSSAUDS INTERNATIONAL WEBSITE
MADAME TUSSAUDS HOLLYWOOD
6933 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028
MADAME TUSSAUDS NEW YORK
234 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036
MADAME TUSSAUDS ORLANDO
8387 International Drive
Orlando, FL 32819
MADAME TUSSAUDS SAN FRANCISCO
145 Jefferson Street
San Francisco, California 94133
MADAME TUSSAUDS WASHINGTON DC
MADAM TUSSAUDS LAS VEGAS
Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on August 27, 2015:
Excellent hub with such wonderful pictures!
We have seen a lot about Madame Tussauds wax museum on T.V. and in magazines. Amazing art and you covered it beautifully with details. Hope to visit it sometime in future.
Thank you so much!
Readmikenow (author) on August 25, 2015:
m abdullah javad thanks for the feedback. I appreciate it.
muhammad abdullah javed on August 25, 2015:
Readmikenow you did a wonderful job here my friend, very interesting and informative. Thanks for sharing.
Readmikenow (author) on August 24, 2015:
It is always a memorable place to see. Thanks for the comment.
Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on August 24, 2015:
I have been there in the 90´s and it was nice but very expensive. I am sure it is more expensive now than before.