Madame Tussauds is the globally acclaimed wax museum situated in Marylebone Street, London. Its history is fascinating and its exhibitions haunting in their accurate likeness to well-known figures, living and dead. In addition to historical figures, such as Benjamin Franklin, Madame Tussauds has also been the home to wax replicas of sports stars, musicians, political leaders, actors, actresses, and even the original Mrs Tussaud herself, who was the namesake and founder of this modern-day tourist hotspot.
The Chamber of Horrors at Madame Tussaud's wax museum, showing some of the crebtated villains and murderers of the early 19th Century, including Edward Oxford, James Greenacre, James Bloomfield Rush, John Nichols Thom, and Daniel Good. Original Publication: Manners And Customs Of Ye English in 1849 - No 27 Original Artwork: Drawing by Richard Doyle from Ye Quick. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Anna Maria Grosholtz (a.k.a. Marie) was born in France in 1761. Her mother was employed by Dr Curtius as a housekeeper in Switzerland. Dr Curtius was particularly adept at wax modelling and soon taught young Marie his skills, forming a close bond with the child. At just 16 years of age, she created her first work of art out of wax – a figure of Voltaire. She developed a love for the art and would even search the decapitated heads of citizens that had been executed for models. The wax forms were frequently paraded through the streets, gaining the recognition and respect of local onlookers. When Dr Curtius died (1794), he left his collection of wax figures to Marie. She soon travelled Europe, showing off the impressive wax displays.
Marie married François Tussaud in 1795 and changed her exhibition name to Madame Tussaud’s. It has since dropped the apostrophe. In 1835, at 74 years of age, Marie Tussaud established her first museum in Baker Street. This gallery contained the Chamber of Horrors (comprising those that had died in the French Revolution, murderers and criminals), as well as about 400 different figures from various backgrounds. Unfortunately, most of these were lost in a fire (1925), an earthquake (1931) and bombing during the Second World War. Some casts did survive, though, and the modern Tussauds boasts remakes of the old originals.
Marie Tussaud made a wax model of herself in 1842, just eight years before passing away in her sleep. This impressive figure remains on display. Her grandson, Joseph Randall, relocated the museum to Marylebone Street in 1883. Since then, despite financial, political and cultural turmoil, Madame Tussauds has continued to flourish as a tourist attraction. In fact, it is probably as popular today (or more so) as when it first opened, attracting visitors from all over the world. It is now owned by Merlin Entertainments.
Today, there are Madame Tussauds franchises in Hollywood, Hamburg, Bangkok, Moscow, Las Vegas, New York City, Washington DC, and Dubai, amongst other destinations.
This museum is set apart by its abandonment of ropes or other boundaries between the visitors and the exhibitions. This means that guests can closely examine and have their photographs taken with their favourite stars and celebrities. The oldest figure on display is a fascinating creation of Madame du Barry (the mistress of Louis XV). She has been captured sleeping and, with the help of the early forms of animatronics, appears to be breathing.
Such a unique English attraction is certainly a must-see for anyone travelling to London or its surrounds.
For more information, please view: http://www.madametussauds.com