Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
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Madame Tussauds

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Madame Tussauds and the London Planetarium

 Distance from hotel: 1.0 miles (About 4 minutes)
 Hours of operation: Weekdays 9:30 to 17:30 - Weekends 9:30 to 18:00
 Cost: 19.99 (not including Chamber Live) 21.99 (including Chamber Live)
 Included with tour: No

 

  THE HISTORY

  Madame Tussauds is a wax museum in London, with branches in Amsterdam, Hong Kong (Victoria Peak), Las Vegas, Copenhagen and New York City. It was setup by Marie Tussaud who was a wax sculptor.

Madame Tussaud (1761-1850), born Marie Grosholtz worked as a housekeeper for Dr. Philippe Curtius, a physician skilled in wax modelling. Curtius taught Tussaud the art of wax modelling. In 1765, Curtius made a waxwork of Marie Jean du Barry, Louis XV's mistress. A cast of that mould is the oldest work currently on display.

The first exhibition of Curtius' waxworks was shown in 1770, and attracted a lot of people. The exhibition moved to the Palais Royal in 1776. He opened a second location on Boulevard du Temple in 1782, the "Caverne des Grands Voleurs", a precursor to the later chamber of horrors.

Tussaud created her first wax figure, of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in 1778. Other famous persons she modelled at that time include Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin. When Curtius died 1794 he left his collection of waxworks to Marie. In 1802 Marie Tussaud went to London, and as a result of the Franco-English war she was unable to return to France, so with her collection she travelled throughout Great Britain and Ireland. She established her first permanent exhibition in Baker Street in 1835 (on the "Baker Street Bazaar")

In 1842 she made a self portrait which is now on display at the entrance of her museum.

One of the main attractions of her museum was the 'Chamber of Horrors'. This part of the exhibition included some victims of the French Revolution but also newly created figures of murders and other criminals. The name was given by a contributor to Punch in 1845.

Other famous people were added to the exhibition, including Horatio Nelson, and Sir Walter Scott. Some of the sculptures done by Tussaud herself still exist.

The museum moved to its current location on Marylebone Road in 1884. In 1925 a fire destroyed many of the figures, but fortunately the moulds survived allowing the historical waxworks to be remade.

Madame Tussaud's wax museum has now grown to become one of the major tourist attractions in London, incorporating the London Planetarium in its west wing. It has expanded with branches in Amsterdam, Copanhagen, Hong Kong (Victoria Peak), Las Vegas and New York City. Today wax figures of the Tussauds include historical and royal figures, film stars, sports stars and famous murderers. The current management is The Tussauds Group.