Madame Tussauds is the kind of venue you would expect a huge queue in front of, whatever the day of the year. Rows of tourists, mainly, would come to visit the most famous wax museum and leave London with a few selfies with celebrities.
The attraction of this museum always fascinated me, without influencing me though, as it’s only last December -after 7 years of living in London!- that I finally set foot into this museum! The main reason being that the pandemic kept tourists away (obviously) and created an opportunity to explore Madame Tussauds with no one around…such a luxury I could not resist!
And the fact is: I really enjoyed this visit!!
Today, DOYOUSPEAKLONDON guides you through one of the most popular museums in the world!
Madame Tussauds: a fascinating History
This museum has experienced a tumultuous history, but it hasn’t prevented it from having an enduring success at the same time. Let’s dive into the historical facts …
At the origin of this museum, there is (obviously!) Madame Tussaud, born Marie Grosholtz in Strasbourg in 1761. Her mother worked for Philippe Curtius, who was a physician skilled in wax modeling, in Switzerland. Mr Curtius taught young Marie the art of wax modeling and took his young apprentice with him (only 6 years old at the time!) when he moved to Paris.
In 1777 Marie created her first wax sculpture of the famous author and philosopher, Francois Voltaire. At the age of 17, she became the art tutor to Madame Elizabeth, the sister of King Louis XVI of France, at the Palace of Versailles. During the French Revolution, she was imprisoned and awaiting execution but was released thanks to an influential friend. This is when she was forced to prove her allegiance to the Revolution by making masks of executed nobles and her former employers, the King and Queen.
In 1794, the French Revolution ended and Marie inherited Dr. Philippe Curtius’ wax collection. For the next 33 years, she toured Europe showcasing this collection. She married Francois Tussaud in 1795, took his surname, and then renamed her show as Madame Tussaud’s (the ‘s has been abandoned since).
By 1835, Marie Tussaud had settled down in Baker Street, London, and opened a museum. One of the main attractions of her museum was the Chamber of Horrors, named after Punch Magazine used this term to evoke the Museum’s Separate Room where gruesome relics of the French Revolution were displayed.
In 1850 Madame Tussaud died and her grandsons took over the management of the venue and moved the attraction to its current site on Marylebone Road in 1884. Since then, the Museum has resisted several ownership changes, fires, and bombs destroying the museum and its collection on several occasions, and developed branches around the world (bringing the number to 21 Madame Tussauds in the world!).
Madame Tussauds: London Wax Museum
The collection of the Museum counts more than 300 wax figures, getting bigger every year, and ranges from historical and royal figures, to film celebrities, sports legends, music superstars…
Some wax figures are so realistic it’s very confusing and impressive to stand next to them! The fact that we can always get close to them creates a particular feeling and I understood there how sensational it can seem for some fans.
There are 14 different interactive areas in the museum, giving you plenty of opportunities to do selfies!
The sports section was really interesting due to the exploits achieved by the people selected here.
The pop stars section particularly (and quite unsurprisingly) interested our kids…it’s always very impressive to stand next to one’s favorite singer, right?
Be reassured, the cinema section is very well represented, from classic figures like Hitchcock to famous actors and epic series like Star Wars!
I have shown you only a small selection of pictures here, as I don’t want to spoil your visit!
Madame Tussauds: The Making Of
During your visit, you’ll find a section aimed at explaining to you how wax figures are made. This is a really interesting part where you discover the full process of creation described by Beyoncé: from the initial measurements to the choice of eye color and the makeup match, or the hair selection, the sculpting, and finishings, a wax figure production in Madame Tussauds is said to take about 3 to 4 months and cost around 250,000 euros!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and found inspiration here. If you are planning to visit Madame Tussauds when it reopens, please share your experience and opinion on DOYOUSPEAKLONDON’s blog!
To go further:
Madame Tussauds: Marylebone Rd, Marylebone, NW1 5LR
Tickets / Bundles: https://www.madametussauds.com/london/tickets-prices/