Madame Tussauds is probably the most renowned wax museum in the world. It was founded by wax sculptor Marie Tussaud in the 1830s, and has long been a major tourist attraction in London, displaying waxworks of historical and royal figures, film stars, sports stars and, in its infamous Chamber of Horror, murderers.
Marie Tussaud (1761–1850) was born in Strasbourg, France. She learnt wax modelling from Dr Philippe Curtius, a Swiss physician for whom her mother worked as a housekeeper. Tussaud witnessed the French Revolution and travelled across Europe to finally settle in London and found a museum of wax figures that included both her own pieces and Curtius’s collection.
Some of the sculptures done by Marie Tussaud herself still exist. 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. The oldest figure on display is that of Madame du Barry. Other faces from the time of Tussaud include Robespierre, George III and Benjamin Franklin. In 1842, she made a self portrait which is now on display at the entrance of her museum.
Madame Tussaud’s wax museum has expanded and now has several branches worldwide, including such major cities as Amsterdam, Bangkok, Berlin, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York , Shanghai, Sydney, Vienna and Washington, DC.
During the French Revolution, Marie Tussaud modelled many prominent victims. In her memoirs she claims that she would search through corpses to find the decapitated heads of executed citizens, from which she would make death masks. Her death masks were held up as revolutionary flags and paraded through the streets of Paris.
Get up close and personal with the stars without having to queue. There are over 300 wax figures and new models are added regularly. Walk through the 14 different interactive zones and take part in the Marvel Super Heroes 4D movie experience. Madame Tussauds is on Marylebone road, nearest station is Regent’s Park or Baker Street. The Planetarium is just next door.