Wax museum

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A typical modern wax sculpture of Cecilia Cheung at Madame Tussauds Hong Kong. CeciliaCheung MadameTussauds.jpg
A typical modern wax sculpture of Cecilia Cheung at Madame Tussauds Hong Kong.
Satyajit Ray at Mother's Wax Museum, Calcutta Satyajit Ray at Mother's Wax Museum, Calcutta.jpg
Satyajit Ray at Mother's Wax Museum, Calcutta

A wax museum or waxworks usually consists of a collection of wax sculptures representing famous people from history and contemporary personalities exhibited in lifelike poses, wearing real clothes.

Wax sculpture

A wax sculpture is a depiction made using a waxy substance. Often these are effigies, usually of a notable individual, but there are also death masks and scenes with many figures, mostly in relief.


Some wax museums have a special section dubbed the "Chamber of Horrors", in which the more grisly exhibits are displayed. Some collections are more specialized, as, for example, collections of wax medical models once used for training medical professionals. Many museums or displays in historical houses that are not wax museums as such use wax figures as part of their displays. The origin of wax museums goes back to the early 18th century at least, and wax funeral effigies of royalty and some other figures exhibited by their tombs had essentially been tourist attractions well before that.

Museum institution that holds artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, cultural, historical, or other importance

A museum is an institution that cares for (conserves) a collection of artifacts and other objects of artistic, cultural, historical, or scientific importance. Many public museums make these items available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary. The largest museums are located in major cities throughout the world, while thousands of local museums exist in smaller cities, towns and rural areas. Museums have varying aims, ranging from serving researchers and specialists to serving the general public. The goal of serving researchers is increasingly shifting to serving the general public.

Chamber of Horrors (Madame Tussauds)

The Chamber of Horrors was one of the attractions at Madame Tussauds in London, being an exhibition of waxworks of notorious murderers and other infamous historical figures. The gallery first opened as a 'Separate Room' in Marie Tussaud's 1802 exhibition in London and quickly became a success as it showed historical personalities and artifacts rather than the freaks of nature popular in other waxworks of the day. It closed permanently in April 2016.

History before 1800

The funeral effigy (without clothes) of Elizabeth of York, mother of King Henry VIII, 1503, Westminster Abbey Elizabeth of york - funeral effigy.jpg
The funeral effigy (without clothes) of Elizabeth of York, mother of King Henry VIII, 1503, Westminster Abbey

The making of life-size wax figures wearing real clothes grew out of the funeral practices of European royalty. In the Middle Ages it was the habit to carry the corpse, fully dressed, on top of the coffin at royal funerals, but this sometimes had unfortunate consequences in hot weather, and the custom of making an effigy in wax for this role grew, again wearing actual clothes so that only the head and hands needed wax models. After the funeral these were often displayed by the tomb or elsewhere in the church, and became a popular attraction for visitors, which it was often necessary to pay to view. [1]

Middle Ages Period of European history from the 5th to the 15th century

In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western history: classical antiquity, the medieval period, and the modern period. The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.

Effigy representation of a specific person in the form of sculpture

An effigy is a representation of a specific person in the form of sculpture or some other three-dimensional medium. The use of the term is normally restricted to certain contexts in a somewhat arbitrary way: recumbent effigies on tombs are so called, but standing statues of individuals, or busts, are usually not. Likenesses of religious figures in sculpture are not normally called effigies. Effigies are common elements of funerary art, especially as a recumbent effigy in stone or metal placed on a tomb, or a less permanent "funeral effigy", placed on the coffin in a grand funeral, wearing real clothing.

The museum of Westminster Abbey in London has a collection of British royal wax effigies going back to that of Edward III of England (died 1377), as well as those of figures such as the naval hero Horatio Nelson, and Frances Stewart, Duchess of Richmond, who also had her parrot stuffed and displayed. From the funeral of Charles II in 1680 they were no longer placed on the coffin but were still made for later display. [1] The effigy of Charles II, open-eyed and standing, was displayed over his tomb until the early 19th century, when all the Westminster effigies were removed from the abbey itself. [2] Nelson's effigy was a pure tourist attraction, commissioned the year after his death in 1805, and his burial not in the Abbey but in St Paul's Cathedral after a government decision that major public figures should in future be buried there. Concerned for their revenue from visitors, the Abbey decided it needed a rival attraction for admirers of Nelson. [3]

Westminster Abbey Church in London

Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, is a large, mainly Gothic abbey church in the City of Westminster, London, England, just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is one of the United Kingdom's most notable religious buildings and the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English and, later, British monarchs. The building itself was a Benedictine monastic church until the monastery was dissolved in 1539. Between 1540 and 1556, the abbey had the status of a cathedral. Since 1560, the building is no longer an abbey or a cathedral, having instead the status of a Church of England "Royal Peculiar"—a church responsible directly to the sovereign.

Edward III of England 14th-century King of England and Duke of Aquitaine

Edward III was King of England and Lord of Ireland from January 1327 until his death; he is noted for his military success and for restoring royal authority after the disastrous and unorthodox reign of his father, Edward II. Edward III transformed the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe. His long reign of 50 years was the second longest in medieval England and saw vital developments in legislation and government, in particular the evolution of the English parliament, as well as the ravages of the Black Death.

Frances Stewart, Duchess of Richmond prominent member of the Court of the Restoration

Frances Teresa Stewart, Duchess of Richmond and Lennox was a prominent member of the Court of the Restoration and famous for refusing to become a mistress of Charles II of England. For her great beauty she was known as La Belle Stuart and served as the model for an idealised, female Britannia.

Wax museum in 1792 with the three fathers of the French Revolution, Franklin, Voltaire and Rousseau, installed at Elysium.
(musee de la Revolution francaise) Cabinet de cire, Musee de la Revolution francaise.jpg
Wax museum in 1792 with the three fathers of the French Revolution, Franklin, Voltaire and Rousseau, installed at Elysium.
(musée de la Révolution française)

In European courts including that of France the making of posed wax figures became popular. Antoine Benoist (1632–1717) was a French court painter and sculptor in wax to King Louis XIV. He exhibited forty-three wax figures of the French Royal Circle at his residence in Paris. Thereafter, the king authorized the figurines to be shown throughout France. His work became so highly regarded that James II of England invited him to visit England in 1684. There he executed works of the English king and members of his court. A seated figure of Peter the Great of Russia survives, made by an Italian artist, after the Tsar was impressed by the figures he saw at the Chateau of Versailles. The Danish court painter Johann Salomon Wahl executed figures of the Danish king and queen in about 1740. [4]

Antoine Benoist French painter and sculptor

Antoine Benoist was a French painter and sculptor who served as personal painter to King Louis XIV. He was accepted as a member of the Académie Royale, Paris in 1681.

James II of England 17th-century King of England and Ireland, and of Scotland (as James VII)

James II and VII was King of England and Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685 until he was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The last Roman Catholic monarch of England, Scotland and Ireland, his reign is now remembered primarily for struggles over religious tolerance. However, it also involved the principles of absolutism and divine right of kings and his deposition ended a century of political and civil strife by confirming the primacy of Parliament over the Crown.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

The 'Moving Wax Works of the Royal Court of England', a museum or exhibition of 140 life-size figures, some apparently with clockwork moving parts, opened by Mrs Mary in Fleet Street in London was doing excellent business in 1711. Philippe Curtius, waxwork modeller to the French court, opened his Cabinet de Cire as a tourist attraction in Paris in 1770, which remained open until 1802. In 1783 this added a Caverne des Grandes Voleurs ("Cave of the Great Thieves"), an early "Chamber of Horrors". He bequeathed his collection to his protegé Marie Tussaud, who during the French Revolution made death masks of the executed royals. [5]

Fleet Street street in the City of London, England

Fleet Street is a major street mostly in the City of London. It runs west to east from Temple Bar at the boundary with the City of Westminster to Ludgate Circus at the site of the London Wall and the River Fleet from which the street was named.

Philippe Curtius (1737–1794) was a Swiss physician and wax modeller who taught Marie Tussaud the art of wax modelling.

Marie Tussaud French artist

Anna Maria "Marie" Tussaud was a French artist known for her wax sculptures and Madame Tussauds, the wax museum she founded in London.

Notable wax museums

Madame Tussauds, historically associated with London, is the most famous name associated with wax museums, although it was not the earliest wax museum, as is sometimes thought. In 1835 Madame Tussaud established her first permanent exhibition in London's Baker Street. By the late 19th century most large cities had some kind of commercial wax museum, like the Musée Grévin in Paris or the Panoptikum Hamburg, and for a century these remained highly popular. In the late 20th century it became harder for them to compete with other attractions.

Today there are also Madame Tussauds in Dam Square, Amsterdam; Berlin; Madame Tussauds Hong Kong; Shanghai; and five locations in the United States: the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, Times Square in New York City, Washington, D.C., Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco and Hollywood.

Louis Tussaud's wax museum in San Antonio, Texas, is across the street from the historic Alamo. Others are located on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, and Grand Prairie, Texas.

One of the most popular wax museums in the United States for decades was The Movieland Wax Museum in Buena Park, California, near Knott's Berry Farm. The museum opened in 1962 and through the years added many wax figures of famous show business figures. Several stars attended the unveilings of the wax incarnations. The museum closed its doors on October 31, 2005, after years of dwindling attendance.

However, the most enduring museum in the United States is the Hollywood Wax Museum located in Hollywood, California which features almost exclusively figures of movie actors displayed in settings associated with their roles in popular movies. This group of museums includes Hollywood Wax Museum Branson in Branson, Missouri along with Hollywood Wax Museum Pigeon Forge in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and Hollywood Wax Museum Myrtle Beach in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. With the original location having been developed in the mid-1960s, the most recent reports suggest that this group of museums is experiencing brisk business with the Branson location having undergone a substantial expansion and remodeling in 2008 and 2009 including an animated ride and a mirror maze.

Another popular wax museum is the Musée Conti Wax Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana, which features wax figures portraying the city's history as well as a "Haunted Dungeon" section of wax figures of famous characters from horror films and literature. This museum is currently closed as the Conti building is being converted into condos. The museum should reopen at Jazzland Theme Park some time in the future. [6] Another popular wax museum in the U.S. is the Wax Museum at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, California.

BibleWalk is a Christian wax museum in Mansfield, Ohio. [7] [8] It has received attention for its use of celebrity wax figures in its religious scenes, [9] originally a cost-saving measure when new wax figures were deemed too expensive. [7]

The Royal London Wax Museum was open in downtown Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, from 1970 to 2010 in the Steamship Terminal building, it featured "royalty to rogues and the renowned." It was forced to close when the building required seismic upgrades.

The National Wax Museum in Dublin, Ireland is a wax museum which hosts well over a hundred figures. For many years it has had only one sculptor, PJ Heraty, who continued producing figures even while the museum was closed. Meanwhile, it could be re-opened at a new location. During the last few years some other new wax museums are starting around the world. In 2009 Dreamland Wax Museum opened in Gramado, in the south of Brazil.

The National Presidential Wax Museum in Keystone, South Dakota is the only wax museum in the world to feature every U.S. President. Their exhibits also include other notable figures from history such as General George Custer, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, and Sitting Bull. Originally created by the famed sculptress Katherine Stubergh, the museum includes death and life masks of notable Hollywood celebrities including Mae West Sid Grauman. Their most revered exhibit is a depiction of George W. Bush standing on the rubble of the World Trade Center with NYFD fireman Bob Beckwith following the attacks on September 11, 2001.

In India

India's first wax museum opened in December 2005 in Kanyakumari. Now located to Lonavala it contains 100 wax statues of celebrities at Lonavala Square Mall. The biggest in India wax museum named Mother's Wax Museum was opened in November 2014 in New Town, Kolkata. [10] Another branch opened in July 2008 at the historical site of Old Goa with a collection of religious statues.

A wax museum on musicians and musical instruments named "Melody World" opened at Mysore in October 2010.

A wax museum opened at Jaipur, Rajasthan in 18 December 2016.

Madame Tussauds opened its first museum in India at New Delhi in 2017.

See also


  1. 1 2 "Royals".
  2. "The page you were looking for doesn't exist (404)". www.vam.ac.uk.
  3. Westminster Abbey, "Horatio, Viscount Nelson".
  4. Taylor, 37
  5. Taylor, 37-38
  6. "The Musee Conti Wax Museum plans to move to the new Jazzland theme park – eventually". 20 July 2016.
  7. 1 2 "About Us". BibleWalk. Retrieved May 22, 2018.
  8. "Biblewalk Wax Museum". YouTube . July 2, 2010. Retrieved May 22, 2018.
  9. Lawler, David (August 13, 2015). "Wax figures of British royals appear at US Biblical museum". The Telegraph . Retrieved May 22, 2018.
  10. "Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan's wax statues at Kolkata's wax museum - Times of India".

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Madame Tussauds Wax museum in London

Madame Tussauds is a wax museum in London; it has smaller museums in a number of other major cities. It was founded by wax sculptor Marie Tussaud. It used to be spelled as "Madame Tussaud's"; the apostrophe is no longer used. Madame Tussauds is a major tourist attraction in London, displaying the waxworks of famous and historical figures, as well as popular film and television characters.

The Tussauds Group is now part of Merlin Entertainments. The merger between Tussauds and Merlin means that they overtake Universal Studios as the world's second largest leisure group, after Disney. It is based in Poole, Dorset from where it manages a portfolio of brands and over 50 attractions. These attractions include the Madame Tussauds waxworks, Legoland Theme Parks, Legoland Discovery Centers, Sea Life Centres, Gardaland in Italy, Heide Park Resort in Germany, The Dungeons, The London Eye, The Blackpool Tower attractions, The Orlando Eye, Warwick Castle, Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, and Chessington World of Adventures.

Musée Grévin museum in Paris

The Musée Grévin is a wax museum in Paris located on the Grands Boulevards in the 9th arrondissement on the right bank of the Seine, at 10, Boulevard Montmartre, Paris, France. It is open daily; an admission fee is charged. The musée Grévin also has locations in Montreal and Seoul.

Hollywood Wax Museum Wax museum in Los Angeles, California

The 'Hollywood Wax Museum' is a wax museum featuring replicas of celebrities located on Hollywood Boulevard in the tourist district in Hollywood, California, with other locations in Myrtle Beach, Branson, and Pigeon Forge. Among the wax replicas on display include those of A-List stars, classic entertainers, and legendary singers.

Madame Tussauds Las Vegas museum in Las Vegas, Nevada

Madame Tussauds Las Vegas is a wax museum located in the Las Vegas Strip at The Venetian Las Vegas casino resort in Paradise, Nevada. The attraction opened in 1999, becoming the first Madame Tussauds venue to open in the United States. It features over 100 wax figures of famous celebrities, film and TV characters, athletes, musicians and Marvel superheroes, as well a 4D movie theatre. Subsequent Madame Tussauds venues opened in the U.S in New York City in 2000, Washington D.C. in 2007, and Hollywood, California in 2009.

Madame Tussauds Hong Kong wax museum in Hong Kong

Madame Tussauds Hong Kong, is part of the renowned chain of wax museums founded by Marie Tussaud of France, is located at the Peak Tower on Hong Kong Island in Hong Kong. It is the first Madame Tussauds museums in Asia, the other being the Shanghai branch, which opened in 2006 and the third branch at Bangkok which opened in 2010. The Hong Kong branch houses nearly 100 wax figures of internationally known personalities, with Asian figures taking up more than a third of the total, of which sixteen were Hong Kongers. The wax figures are featured in a range of themed settings such as Hong Kong Glamour, Music Icons, Historical and National Heroes, The Champions and World Premiere.

The Wax Museum at Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, was an attraction with over 270 wax figures. Originator Thomas Fong opened the museum in 1963 after seeing the wax figures at the Seattle World's Fair and it was run by the Fong Family until its closure in 2013. It has attracted over 400,000 visitors a year.

Madame Tussauds Hollywood wax museum in Hollywood, California

Madame Tussauds Hollywood is a wax museum and tourist attraction located on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California. It is the ninth location for the Tussauds franchise, which was set up by sculptor Marie Tussaud, and is located just west of the TCL Chinese Theatre. Madame Tussauds is owned and operated by Merlin Entertainments.

Madame Tussauds New York

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Madame Tussauds Washington D.C.

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Hollywood Wax Museum Pigeon Forge Wax museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

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Madame Tussauds Vienna

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