A wonderful trip into another reality
Me and my son saw the London display of the wax museum. The figurines looked so real and so lifelike. We had great fun posing beside them – just like thousands before us – I guess.
Marie Tussaud began to mold wax sculptures in 1777. Made of beeswax, these effigies can be cut and modeled either by casting moulds or cut and shaped at ordinary temperatures or by applying low amounts of heat. Beeswax mixes with any coloring matter and tints and textures easily.
Her first wax figure was of writer and essayist, Fransois Marie Arouet de Voltaire, known only as Voltaire. She modeled a number of famous people including both Jean-Jacques Rousseau, philosopher and one of the members of the controversial Enlightenment or Age of Reason movement of the 17th century and Benjamin Franklin, writer and
inventor and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
Tussaud’s made wax mouldings of famous peoples death masks during the French Revolution often scouring corpses looking for subjects to mould their decapitated heads. It was the famous in a macabre and somewhat grisly period history hence the Chamber of Horrors.
Curtius, her friend and mentor, died in 1794, leaving Marie his wax models which she exhibited at the Lyceum Theatre moving on to become a permanent exhibition of the Baker Street Bazaar in London in 1835. As life during those times where completely lacking in iPods, televisions and computers – it must have been really different. All they had was live minstrels and museums and the like for entertainment. Of all of the museums, I figured Tussaud’s Chamber of
Horrors had to be one of the best and well attended. The figures were so lifelike (or should I say “deathlike” ?).
Many famous people were added to her museum of horrors beyond the famous victims of the French Revolution. The quality and “magic” of the London exhibition is real.
Over the years Madame Tussau’s museum was expanded by adding branches in Hong Kong, New York, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C and Amsterdam. Such notables as the Queen of England, the 14th Dalai Lama, Winston Churchill, Emperor Akihito, Abraham Lincoln, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and infamous people like Adolf Hitler and Genghis Khan, and those famous who are still among us like Britney Spears, Beyonce, Tony Blair, Oprah Winfrey, Samuel L. Jackson, the Spice Girls, Steven Spielberg, and even Arnold Schwarzenegger. Each of the figurines I have seen have a uniqueness about them that makes each visit with them slightly different. I always get the feeling they’re alive in there somewhere.
Madame Tussaud’s Wax museum chain is a major, tourist attraction the world over and is currently owned by Merlin Entertainments Group one of the largest attractions operators in Europe in second place only to Disney worldwide. Merlin Entertainments felt that Tussaud’s was famous and well-loved enough that they purchased it for 1Bn pounds in 2007. I know that I’ve always gotten a kick out
of visiting, and for a while, we could put aside our real world challenges and just wander, awestruck into the past through the very lifelike wax figures that reach out from the past.
It’s a wonderful trip into another reality well worth the price of admission.