Madam Tussaud's Museum
Madam Tussaud's Museum
To be immortalized forever in wax you don’t need to be a
Queen or a politician, you just need to be a celebrity with a pulling power.
In fact, there is a great number of wax works exhibitions
in our county and abroad. Wax personalities attract millions of visitors all
over the world. It’s an open secret that a transnational entertaining company
Tussaud’s Group is at the top of the list.
During my summer trip to St. Petersburg I also visited some
wax – works exhibitions. Two of them were really fascinating and worth seeing.
But I was also disappointed to discover that there is too much hackwork at this
field. All this aroused my particular interest in wax sculpture and made me
investigate the subject deeper. The aim of my work is to research the history
of the matter, to reveal the facts of Madame Tussaud’s life and to trace the
development of Wax Works Museum into the world’s biggest entertaining centre Tussaud’s
This written work can be used at English lessons and world
art lessons, as well as at extra curricular, devoted to great personalities.
I’m sure it will help to broaden the student’s outwork.
It All Began
First it was a living newspaper, then a History textbook,
London’s visit card, a movie theatre, a restaurant and even a planetarium.
Today Madame Tussaud’s Wax Works Museum is the most visited tourist attraction
in the world. Its founder, Madame Tussaud is considered to be the first business
lady in the world’s history and is called a grandmother of modern show –
At the beginning of the 17th century Europe was
captured by fashion on wax portrait sculptures. Although thy were not so long –
living and tough as those made of marble and bronze, they were at greater
demand as more realistic and cheaper. And it made them available not only for
merchants and aristocrats but for the common citizens as well. And they wanted
to remain in their grandchildren’s memories.
Tussaud and Her Museum
story of Madame Tussaud is as fascinating as that of the exhibition itself. Two
things of her life are especially noteworthy. First, she spent her early years
during the French Revolution and came to meet many of the characters involved.
Second, and perhaps more unusually, she succeeded in business at time when
women were rarely involved in the world of commerce.
Tussaud was born in Strasbourg in 1761 and christened Marie Grosholtz. Her
father, a soldier, was killed in a battle during the Seven Years War only two
months before Marie’s birth. Her mother was a housekeeper for Dr. Philippe
Curtius, a skilled wax sculptor. From the earliest childhood Marie learnt
modelling techniques with Dr. Curtius. Just before the French Revolution they
moved to Paris.
that time Marie’s talent became apparent and he was invited to the royal court
to assist in the artistic education of the King Loui XVI’s sister, Madame
Elizabeth. Life in Versallies was vivid contrast to Marie’s pervious existence.
The capital became a centre chaotic activity; no one was safe, and at one time
both Marie and her mother were imprisoned. But they were not executed, and
nobody knew why. Long before Marie was asked to prepare the death masks of many
of her former employers after they had been executed – among them Marie
Antoinette, Lois XVI, Jean Paul Marat, the philosopher and revolutionary. This
portrait, along with many others modelled by Marie, is still on display today.
1794 Cutius died, and Marie inherited the business, which was grown under her
influence. In the following year she married a French engineer, Francois
Tussaud, and gave birth to three children: a daughter, who died, and two sons.
was still suffering, enormous deprivation, and Marie’s exhibiton was struggling
to survive. In 1802 Marie made a monumental decision. She would leave her
husband and her baby son, Francis, in Paris, while she and her elder son,
Joseph, would tour to the exhibition round the British Isles.
was to see neither France nor her husband again. She spent the next 33 years
travelling around the British Isles, exhibiting her growing collection of
figures to crowds of curious and intrigued spectators. Joseph (her elder son)
accompanied her, taking a keen interest in the craft of making wax figures Soon
his brother Francis joined them.
the days before television, cinema and radio Madame Tussaud’s figures ere
sensation. Week after week the figures of Lord Byron, the murders Burke and
Hare, King George IV, Queen Carline of Brunswik, Shakespeare and the death mask
of Emperor Napoleon – among many others – were packed and unpacked to be shown
to an admiring public.
travels ended in 1835, when Madame Tussaud’s exhibition found a permanent home.
It was in London, not far from today’s exhibition.
interesting development of the period was the establishment of what was to
become the Chamber of Horrors. Madame Tussaud’s collection of the victims and
perpetrators of violent punishment and murders and miscreants was an
Tussaud was actively involved in the exhibition almost to the end of her life.
This would be a remarkable feat even now, and was particularly unusual for a
woman in the 19th century. In April 1850, at the age of 89, she
died. Her final work – a remarkable self – portrait modelling eight years
before her death – can still be seen today.
are some interesting facts about her museum. In 1925 an electrical fault
sparked a fire, which, despite the efforts of Madame Tussaud’s own firefighters
and the London Fire Brigade, soon raged out of the control. Many of the figures
were destroyed. But in 1928 the interior had been reconstructed, this time with
the addition of a cinema and restaurant.
the outbreak of the Second World War, in 1939, all of Britain was threatened by
enemy action - not least London. During the night of the 8th of
September 1940, Madame Tussaud’s was struck by a heavy bomb, which inflicted
significant damage. Some 352 head moulds were damaged beyond repair and the
cinema was completely destroyed – although, thankfully, no lives were lost. In
December of that same year the exhibition again opened its doors to the public.
now I’d like to dwell upon some studio secrets of Madame Tussaud’s Museum.
methods at Madame Tussaud’s have not changed in 200 years. Once a person has
been chosen, the firs step is to collect preliminary information – press
photographs and articles if the subject is alive, portraits in other media and
biographies if dead. Then it must be decided in which part of the exhibition
the figure is to be placed, what the pose it should be and its relationship to
other wax portraits.
sculptor is normally given a sitting with the subject when detailed photographs
are taken, hair and eyes are matched and clothes noted. The sculptor not only
takes precire measurements, such as dimensions of ears and nostrils, but also
has the opportunity to observe the character and personality of the subject,
which will be conveyed as modelling progresses.
usually take place at Madame Tussaud’s studious although, on occasion, the
sculptor will visit the subject. Nelson Mandela gave a sitting at the Post
House Hotel near Heathrow Airport, during a busy schedule which included a
television interview. He later visited Madame Tussaud’s with the late ANC
leader Oliver Tambo to unveil the figure.
Stallone’s sitting was as the MGM Studious in Holywood, and he presented Madam
Tussaud’s with his own full set of evening clothes.
Tussaud’s sculptors never take life casts. Hands, however, are regularly
moulded from life and cast in wax.
takes about six months to complete a figure, most of which is spent on the
portrait head. Working from the reference material acquired at the sitting, the
sculptor begins by modelling the head in clay. At this stage the hair is also
sculpted, but this will later be replaced by real hair. Despite the extensive
use of careful measurements, a great deal of artistry is required to achieve a
realistic portrait. The body is built up in clay on to an armature.
the sculptor is happy with the clay model, a mould of approximately 12 separate
pieces is taken from the head. After meticulous cleaning, the saturated, warm
plaster head mould is filled with molten wax. When a sufficient thickness has
solidified, the still molten centre is poured away. The head mould is made of a
plaster of sufficient quality and fitness to reproduce exactly the surface of
the clay, and can be used several times. The plaster pieces are removed from
the head, and the wax cast is allowed to cool slowly, wrapped in cloth.
and Amazing People
are made 2% bigger than real life because wax shrinks. The wax used for the
figures is similar to candle wax. In the more thrifty past, wax figures were
melted down and re – used, but this is no longer the case as the color of the
wax deteriorates when recycled. Each figure weights about 15 kg – with 4.5 kg
of wax used for the head and 1.4 kg for the hands.
150 precise measurements are taken to create an accurate portrait. Each hair is
to be individually inserted, taking about five weeks.
the figures regularly have their hair washed and styled like anyone else would
at a hairdresser’s. By the way, all vital statistics are accurate and kept
under lock and key by Madame Tussaud’s. Despite repeated requests from the
press, this information is never disclosed.
characters who move and speak are modelled in clay first of all, like the
normal portraits, but the head is made in silicon rubber which allows movement.
spokesperson for Madame Tussaud’s says men and women like different figures.
The figure most photographed by men is Naomi Campbell, and the most
photographed by women is Brad Pitt.
the attention from the public isn’t always friendly – for instance, Hitler had
to be put behind in the Chamber of Horrors because people couldn’t stop abusing
him. By the way, research by Madame Tussaud’s has revealed that women are
stronger than men. In a recent study they discovered that Chamber of Horrors is
twice as popular among women as among men!
in the changes
it opened in 1835 Madame Tussauds has constantly worked to introduce new
attractions over the years.
of the most recent changes has seen the prominent displays of pop singers, TV
stars and movie icons replacing the traditional royals, historical figures and
feedback has dictated the recent changes as visitors no longer expressed an
interest in seeing men in suits expecting to see instead current celebrities
and wanting interactive exhibitions.
royals haven't been replaced completely you can still see the Queen but instead
of seeing her from behind a rope you can have a royal audience escorted by
UK's top personality
Sir Elton John has been unveiled as the UK's favourite personality and cast in
chocolate! A life size chocolate figure of Sir Elton has been made to celebrate
had the chance to vote from a top ten list that consisted of:
TV personalities (Cat Deeley, Denise Van Outen, Jonathan Ross, Ricky Gervais
and Sharon Osbourne)
sports personalities (David Beckham, Denise Lewis and Paula Radcliffe)
singers (Sir Elton John and Will Young)
figure which weighs 126kgs can be viewed in Madame Tussaud’s until Autumn in a
special tent that stops it from melting.
can get up close and personal with celebrities like Simon Cowell made famous by
UK reality TV show 'Pop Idol' you can try to impress him with your vocal
talents and then listen to his comments.
system you sing into tells how in tune you are and dictates his comments from
his trademark put downs to the very rare praise.
and movie stars
you want more than TV personalities you can rub shoulders or chests with the
cream of Hollywood, Brad Pitt. You can stroke his silicon chest – it may be the
closest you ever get to doing it. Or if you would rather you can dance with pop
princess Britney Spears and her backing dancers while Britney is all wax the
dancers are real creating a unique experience.
much do they cost?
Knowles, singer with the girl group Destiny’s Child, was mmortalized in 2004
at a cost of £52,000 complete in the orange and pink Versace dress she
wore in her music video ‘Crazy in love’ as part of the Diva’s exhibition.
interactive features and celebrity wax works are helping Madame Tussauds remain
a world famous tourist attraction that celebrities want to be part of and
people want to visit.
now I’d like to present the full history of Madame Tussaud’s in brief.
talent and determination, a young girl named Marie Grosholz came to be numbered
among the most famous of English institutions.
- Marie Grosholz, later known as Madame Tussaud, is born in Strasbourg.
- Marie's mother's employer, a doctor called Philippe Curtius, opens an
exhibition of life-size wax figures at the Palais Royale in Paris. Marie learns
the art of wax modelling from him.
- Marie models the famous author and philosopher, Francois-Marie Arouet
- Marie becomes art tutor to King Louis XVI's sister and goes to live at the
royal court in Versailles.
- The outbreak of the French Revolution. - Marie returns to Paris, later
helping Curtius to mould the heads of some of the guillotine's victims – among
them her Versailles acquaintances.
- TRAVELLING PERIOD, 1802-35
- Marie Grosholz inherits Curtius's collection of figures.
- She marries François Tussaud, an engineer, but leaves him eight years
later to bring the collection on a tour of the British Isles.
- BAKER ST BAZAAR, 1835-84
the next 33 years, she lives the exhausting and precarious life of a travelling
showman, moving from town to town with her caravans, organising advertising,
and encouraging newspaper anecdotes, or organising charity benefits to bring in
suffers shipwreck in the Irish Sea, and fire during the Bristol Riots of 1831.
Yet, throughout the travelling years, new figures are constantly introduced.
- Madame Tussaud’s settles into a permanent home in The Bazaar, Baker Street,
entering the Bazaar from Baker Street proceed to a saloon richly decorated with
mirrored embellishments. Here sits an aged lady, with an accent which proclaims
her Gallic origins. Were she motionless, you would take her for a piece of
waxwork. This is Madame Tussaud, a lady who is in herself an Exhibition."
[from an 1842 guidebook]
- Punch Magazine coins the name "Chamber of Horrors" for Madame
Tussaud’s separate room where gruesome relics of the French Revolution are
- Madame Tussaud dies. In her old age, supported by two sons, she had achieved
great success. She had resisted a U.S. buy-out, her memoirs had been published,
and her portrait was painted by a court painter. She had been immortalised by
Dickens (as Mrs Jarley) and caricatured by Cruikshank.
TO MARYLEBONE ROAD
- Madame Tussaud’s grandson, Joseph Randall, directs the move to the present
site in Marylebone Road.
& RE-BUILDING 1925-28
- Fire guts the whole building, destroying not only almost all the wax figures
and their costumes, but priceless furnishings, paintings and relics too.
many of the old head moulds were saved, and from these the Exhibition was
rebuilt, opening 3 years later with the addition of a large Cinema and
BRINGS ABOUT PLANETARIUM
- A German bomb destroys the Cinema. Ironically, the figure of Hitler is one of
the few figures to survive unscathed.
- Madame Tussaud’s opens the Commonwealth's first Planetarium on the site of
the old cinema.
- A new Madame Tussaud’s opens its doors in the Kalverstraat, Amsterdam, returning
to the continent for the first time since 1817.
- Madame Tussaud’s Amsterdam expands their collection and moves to celebrated
Dam Square right in the heart of the city.
- The Spirit of London, a spectacular animatronic ride, arrives at Madame
- The London Planetarium is re-opened after a £4.5 million redevelopment,
including the installation of the world-leading Digistar II Star Projector.
- A bigger, better, more chilling than ever Chamber of Horrors is opened at Madame
- Madame Tussaud’s opens in Las Vegas featuring American superstars and
- Madame Tussaud’s New York opens, featuring the city's 'Movers and Shakers',
alongside a whole world of stars.
Madame Tussaud’s opens in Hong Kong featuring over 100 wax figures of
internationally-known personalities and local celebrities
- Madame Tussaud’s starts to introduce exciting new interactive attractions
where guests get to feel what it is like to be famous. In the ‘Goal!’
attraction guests step into the moment when David Beckham prepares to take the
93rd minute free kick that leads England into the World Cup - his figure is
created with a beating heart.
a sitting at Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II’s 22nd figure is created for
a Golden Jubilee attraction at Madame Tussaud’s. The ropes surrounding the
Royal Family are taken away forever as guests are invited to have a personal
‘Audience with The Queen.’
– Tussaud’s collaborates with Disney to create a Treasure Planetarium
attraction, and with Universal Pictures to create The Hulk attraction.
The Chamber-Live! gives a new injection of fear to the Chamber Of Horrors.
- More new interactive attractions open; In ‘Divas’, starring Beyonce, Britney
and Kylie, guests are taught dance moves and perform on stage with feedback on
their performance from Beyonce via video link.
for Beginners’ opens with the new figure of Aishwariya Rai and guests get to
perform in a scene from the film ‘Bride & Predjudice’.
‘Marry me George’ sees guests getting the chance to have a dinner date with Mr
Clooney and trying out their best chat-up lines – they are rewarded with either
diamond engagement ring or the bill for dinner!
- Madame Tussaud’s gets rocking with a new show ‘Air Guitar Star’ starring The
Darkness’ Justin Hawkins. Guests are taught air guitar moves and battle it out
to become the top Rock God!
are invited to try and put a twinkle in the eye of the new Robbie Williams
figure, made because the previous figure was literally ‘worn out’ from the
over-attention of eager fans!
conclusion I’d like to say that working at my report I discovered a lot of
astonishing details about the past and present of the museum. It was
interesting to learn about opening the Planetarium, moving images and
animatronic ride “The Spirit of London”. I could hardly imagine that there are
even speaking wax figures and that visitors can freely interact with them –
dance, sing, play and what not! I was also impressed reading about Studio
Secrets; the process of making wax sculpture is a real art! And can you imagine
that each hair is inserted individually and it takes five weeks? And of course
it was a surprise for me to follow wonderful changes and how the museum
gradually turned into a great international complex Tussaud’s Group!
can’t but say I highly appreciate Marie Grosholz, or Madame Tussaud. I admire
this talented strong, courageous and enthusiastic business lady. I’m sure her
life and the history of the Museum can serve a brilliant example for business
people how to develop and expand one’s business. And without any doubts she
would be proud to see the fantastic changes of her creation!
report is supported with a video “Madame Tussaud’s Museum”, which was really
helpful. I got a vivid picture of the Museum and watched the process of wax
figure – making in a mould studio, as if I have visited it myself.
wish I could drop in a chilling Chamber of Horrors, or come to a life size
chocolate figure of Sir Elton John and smell it! And it would be nice to watch
David Beckham taking his free kick and listen to his beating heart!
wonder if there is wax Marilyn Manson there. It would be great!
Studio Secrets booklet, copyright M.
Tussaud’s Limited, 1993, produced by Big Design, London, p. 49 - 50
World Business Legends magazine, ¹
Uchitelskaya Gazeta, Olga Dmitrieva (www.ug.ru)
Stories To Enjoy (intermediate), Moscow,
“Manager” p. 111-113
Speak Out Magazine ¹
6, 2004, p. 8 – 9
Wax Works Museum, A. Greiser,
Ekaterinburg, p. 86 – 89
Video “Madam Tussaud’s Museum” \ “Waking
How It All Began
Madam Tussaud’s and Her Museum
Entertaining and Amazing People