Madame Tussauds

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Madame Tussauds
Madame Tussauds has included the former London Planetarium (large dome to the left) since 2010.
Established22 May 1835 (189 years ago) (22 May 1835)
LocationMarylebone Road, City of Westminster, London, England
FounderMarie Tussaud Edit this at Wikidata

Madame Tussauds (UK: /tˈsɔːdz/, US: /tˈsz/)[1][N. 1] is a wax museum founded in London in 1835 by the French wax sculptor Marie Tussaud.[2][3] One of the early main attractions was the Chamber of Horrors, which appeared in advertising in 1843.[4]

In 1883, the restricted space of the original Baker Street site prompted Tussaud's grandson (Joseph Randall) to commission the building at its current London location on Marylebone Road. The new exhibition galleries were opened on 14 July 1884 and were a great success. Madame Tussaud & Sons was incorporated as a private limited company (Ltd.) in 1889.[5]

A major tourist attraction in London since the Victorian era, Madame Tussauds displays the waxworks of famous and historical figures, as well as popular film and television characters played by famous actors.[6] Operated by the British entertainment company Merlin Entertainments, the museum now has locations in cities across four continents, with the first overseas branch opening in Amsterdam in 1970.[7]



Marie Tussaud was born as Marie Grosholtz in 1761 in Strasbourg, France. Her mother worked for Philippe Curtius in Bern, Switzerland; he was a physician skilled in wax modelling. Curtius taught Tussaud the art of wax modelling when she was a child; when he moved to Paris, Marie and her mother followed.[8]

Grosholtz created her first wax sculpture, of Voltaire, in 1777.[9] At 17, according to her memoirs, she became art tutor to Madame Elizabeth, the sister of King Louis XVI. During the French Revolution, she was imprisoned for three months, but was subsequently released.[8] During the Revolution, she made models of many prominent victims.[10]

Left: Waxwork of Marie Tussaud (sculpting a waxwork) and right: her memorial plaque at the wax museum she founded in London

Grosholtz inherited Curtius' vast collection of wax models following his death in 1794. For the next 33 years, she travelled around Europe with a touring show from the collection. She married Francois Tussaud in 1795, took his surname, and renamed her show as Madame Tussaud's. In 1802 she accepted an invitation from lantern and phantasmagoria pioneer Paul Philidor to exhibit her work alongside his show at the Lyceum Theatre, London. A wave of creativity was in vogue in London when Tussaud arrived in the city, with new West End stage plays which included the first to be called a melodrama, the first appearance of Joseph Grimaldi in his whiteface clown character, and poet William Wordsworth's poem "Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802" describing London and the Thames.[11] Adding her own creativity to the mix, Tussaud brought with her all her death masks, wax faces and busts.[11] Complaining that Philidor failed to promote her, Tussaud then decided to go into business alone.[12]

Unable to return to France because of the Napoleonic Wars, she travelled throughout Great Britain and Ireland exhibiting her collection and made her home in London. From 1831, she took a series of short leases on the upper floor of "Baker Street Bazaar" (on the west side of Baker Street, Dorset Street, and King Street in London).[13] This site was later featured in the Druce-Portland case sequence of trials of 1898–1907. This became Tussaud's first permanent home in 1836.[14]


Poster for the Tussaud wax figures exhibition, Baker Street, London, 1835

By 1835, Marie Tussaud had settled down in Baker Street and opened a museum.[2] One of her museum's main attractions was the Chamber of Horrors. The name is often credited to a contributor to Punch in 1845, but Tussaud appears to have originated it herself, using it in advertising as early as 1843.[4] This part of the exhibition included victims of the French Revolution and newly created figures of murderers and other criminals. Other famous people were added to the museum, including Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington, Henry VIII, and Queen Victoria.[15] The early commercial success of Madame Tussaud's saw it establish itself as a brand, and the museum became a pioneer in innovating various forms of publicity when the advertising industry was in its infancy.[4] The Hall of Fame attraction exerted great influence among the public of Victorian London, and inclusion in it was definitive proof one had attained celebrity status.[4]

In these days no one can be considered properly popular unless he is admitted into the company of Madame Tussaud's celebrities in Baker Street. The only way in which a powerful and lasting impression can be made on the public is through the medium of wax. You must be a doll at Madame Tussaud's before you can become an I-dol(l) of the multitude. Madame Tussaud has become in fact the only dispenser of permanent reputation.

— "The Tussaud Test of Popularity", Punch, 1849.[4]
Advertising man pasting a bill for Madame Tussaud's Chamber of Horrors, London 1877. Early exhibits included Burke and Hare. The chamber closed on 11 April 2016 and was replaced by the Sherlock Holmes Experience.[16]

Other businesses in Baker Street profited from being within close proximity to Madame Tussaud's, and in 1860 Charles Dickens hailed the museum as one of London's most popular entertainments, writing in All the Year Round: "Madame Tussaud's is something more than an exhibition, it is an institution."[17] A waxwork of Dickens appeared at the museum in 1873, three years after his death.[18] Some sculptures still exist that were made by Marie Tussaud herself. The gallery originally contained some 400 different figures, but fire damage in 1925 coupled with bombs during the Blitz on London in 1941, severely damaged most of such older models. 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, the work of Curtius from 1765 and part of the waxworks left to Grosholtz at his death. Other faces from the time of Tussaud include Robespierre and George III.[19] In 1842, she made a self-portrait, which is now on display at the entrance of her museum. She died in her sleep in London on 16 April 1850.[20]

Entrance sign in London

By 1883, the restricted space and rising cost of the Baker Street site prompted her grandson Joseph Randall to commission construction of a building at the museum's current location on Marylebone Road. The new exhibition galleries were opened on 14 July 1884 and were a great success.[21] But Randall had bought out his cousin Louisa's half-share in the business in 1881, and that plus the building costs resulted in his having too little capital. He formed a limited company in 1888 to attract fresh capital but it had to be dissolved after disagreements between the family shareholders. In February 1889 Tussaud's was sold to a group of businessmen led by Edwin Josiah Poyser.[22] Tussaud's great-grandson, John Theodore Tussaud, continued in his role as the museum's manager and chief artist.[19] The first wax sculpture of a young Winston Churchill was made in 1908; a total of ten have been made since.[23] The first overseas branch of Madame Tussauds was opened in Amsterdam in 1970.[7]

Ownership changes[edit]

In 2005, Madame Tussauds was sold to a company in Dubai, Dubai International Capital, for £800m (US$1.5bn). In May 2007, The Blackstone Group purchased The Tussauds Group from then-owner Dubai International Capital for US$1.9 billion;[24] the company was merged with Blackstone's Merlin Entertainments and operation of Madame Tussauds was taken over by Merlin.[24][25] After the Tussauds acquisition, Dubai International Capital gained 20% of Merlin Entertainment.[26]

On 17 July 2007, as part of the financing for the Tussauds deal, Merlin sold the freehold of Madame Tussauds to private investor Nick Leslau and his investment firm Prestbury under a sale and leaseback agreement.[27] Although the attraction sites are owned by Prestbury, they are operated by Merlin based on a renewable 35-year lease.[25]

Recent status[edit]

Madame Tussauds (spelt without the apostrophe) next to a waxwork of Kate Winslet in London

Madame Tussaud's wax museum has been a major tourist attraction in London since it opened in the 1830s, an era viewed as being when the city's tourism industry began.[6] Until 2010, it incorporated the London Planetarium in its west wing. A large animated dark ride, The Spirit of London, opened in 1993. Today's wax figures at Tussauds include historical and royal figures, film stars, sports stars, and famous murderers. It has been known since 2007 as "Madame Tussauds" museums (no apostrophe).[28] In 2009, a 5+12 inches (14 cm) waxwork of Tinker Bell (the fairy from J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan) became the museum's smallest figure of all time when it was unveiled in London.[29]

In July 2008, Madame Tussauds' Berlin branch became embroiled in controversy when a 41-year-old German man brushed past two guards and decapitated a wax figure depicting Adolf Hitler. This was believed to be an act of protest against showing the ruthless dictator alongside sports heroes, movie stars, and other historical figures. The statue has since been repaired, and the perpetrator has admitted that he attacked the statue to win a bet.[30] The original model of Hitler was unveiled in Madame Tussauds London in April 1933; it was frequently vandalised and a 1936 replacement had to be carefully guarded.[31][32][33] In January 2016, the statue of Hitler was removed from the Chamber of Horrors section in the London museum in response to an open letter sent by a staff writer of The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, followed by significant support for its removal from social media.[34]

The first Madame Tussauds in India opened in New Delhi on 1 December 2017. Its operator, Merlin Entertainments, planned an investment of 50 million pounds over the next 10 years.[35][36][37] It features over 50 wax models, including political and entertainment figures such as Ariana Grande, Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Sachin Tendulkar, Kim Kardashian, Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio, Scarlett Johansson, Angelina Jolie, Asha Bhosle, Kapil Dev, and Mary Kom.[38] On 30 December 2020, the holding company of Madame Tussauds in Delhi confirmed a temporary shutdown of the museum.[39] It reopened in 2022.[40]

Museum locations[edit]

Entry of Madame Tussauds in Berlin
Madame Tussauds in New York City opened in 2000.
Madame Tussauds opened in Washington, D.C., in 2007.
Madame Tussauds Hollywood in 2018
Madame Tussauds in Shanghai, China, displaying a wax figure of Queen Elizabeth II, opened in 2006.



North America[edit]


In popular culture[edit]

Celebrity poses with their wax figures[edit]

Celebrities have often posed like their wax figures as pranks and publicity stunts:

  • On 3 November 2009, the museum's New York City branch was featured in a segment on NBC's Today in which weatherman Al Roker posed in place of his lifelike wax figure for two hours and startled unsuspecting visitors, who were at first led to believe they were viewing Roker's wax counterpart.[68]
  • NBA players Carmelo Anthony and Jeremy Lin pranked fans during the unveiling of their statues at the New York and San Francisco museums, respectively.[69][70]
  • In 2015, Arnold Schwarzenegger posed as the Terminator statue in the Hollywood museum, to promote a charity event.[71]
  • Ant and Dec pranked Olly Murs by tricking him into using a machine that will "scan every part of Olly's face and body to create the most accurate wax figure ever" as a part of their annual Undercover segment on their show, Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway.[72]


List of wax figures[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ The family themselves pronounce it /ˈts/.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Wells, John C. (2009). "Tussaud's". Longman Pronunciation Dictionary. London: Pearson Longman. ISBN 978-1-4058-8118-0.
  2. ^ a b "The History of Madame Tussauds" Archived 13 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Madame
  3. ^ Rothstein, Edward (24 August 2007). "Ripley's Believe It or Not – Madame Tussauds". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 May 2010. Madame Tussaud (who gave the attraction its now-jettisoned apostrophe) ...
  4. ^ a b c d e Berridge, Kate (2006). Madame Tussaud: A life in wax. New York: HarperCollins. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-06-052847-8.
  5. ^ The Law Journal Reports Volume 96. E.B. Ince. p. 328.
  6. ^ a b Smith, Andrew; Graham, Anne (2019). Destination London. The Expansion of the Visitor Economy. University of Westminster Press. p. 6. Whilst London's appeal is based on historical attractions that date back to Roman times, the city's tourism 'industry' arguably dates back to the nineteenth century. In the period 1820–1840 new facilities were established that still provide the backbone of the city's tourism sector: iconic attractions (London Zoo, Madame Tussauds), leisure settings...
  7. ^ a b "Madame Tussauds' to open shop in Delhi". The Times of India. 13 November 2015.
  8. ^ a b "The Baker Street Bazaar". 26 May 2012.
  9. ^ Du Plessis, Amelia. "England—Madame Tussauds". Informational site about England. Archived from the original on 13 December 2011. Retrieved 12 July 2011.
  10. ^ "Marie Tussaud Facts, information, pictures | articles about Marie Tussaud". Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  11. ^ a b Walton, Geri (2019). "Chapter 15, page 1". Madame Tussaud Her Life and Legacy. Pen & Sword Books.
  12. ^ "How Madame Tussaud built her house of wax". National Geographic. Retrieved 9 April 2024.
  13. ^ Pilbeam (2006) pp. 102–106
  14. ^ Pilbeam (2006) pp. 100–104
  15. ^ Timbs, John (1868). Curiosities of London: Exhibiting the Most Rare and Remarkable Objects of Interest in the Metropolis, with Nearly Sixty Years' Personal Recollections. Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer. p. 819.
  16. ^ "Now you too can play at being Sherlock Holmes". iNews. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  17. ^ All the Year Round Volume 2. Charles Dickens. 1860. p. 250.
  18. ^ Litvack, Leon; Vanfasse, Nathalie (2020). Reading Dickens Differently. Wiley. p. 213.
  19. ^ a b "In pictures: The curious history of Madame Tussauds". The Telegraph. Retrieved 11 April 2024.
  20. ^ Wilson, Scott (16 September 2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. McFarland. p. 762. ISBN 9781476625997. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  21. ^ Pilbeam, ibid. pp. 166, 168–9.
  22. ^ Pilbeam, ibid. p. 170.
  23. ^ Pamela Pilbeam Madame Tussaud: And the History of Waxworks. P.199.
  24. ^ a b Cho, David (6 March 2007). "Blackstone Buys Madame Tussauds Chain". The Washington Post.
  25. ^ a b "Merlin conjures up leaseback deal". The Daily Telegraph. 17 July 2007.
  26. ^ "Tussauds firm bought in £1bn deal". BBC News. 5 March 2007.
  27. ^ "Alton Towers sold in £622m deal". BBC News. 17 July 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  28. ^ "10 Things You Might Not Know About Madame Tussauds Wax Museum". Mental Floss. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
  29. ^ "Tinker Bell Immortalized at Madame Tussauds". AWN. Retrieved 15 July 2023.
  30. ^ "Adolf Hitler returns to Berlin museum after beheading". 14 September 2008. Archived from the original on 19 September 2008. Retrieved 14 September 2008.
  31. ^ Pilbeam, ibid. p. 199.
  32. ^ "Madame Tussauds to repair beheaded Hitler". Associated Press. 7 July 2008. Retrieved 7 July 2008.
  33. ^ Carrel, Paul (5 July 2008). "Man rips head from Hitler wax figure". Reuters.
  34. ^ Gur-Arieh, Noga (6 January 2016). "Madame Tussauds Museum in London Removed Hitler Figure". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Retrieved 14 June 2021.
  35. ^ [1]: "Madame Tussauds (no longer an apostrophe)."
  36. ^ "Madame Tussauds debuts in Delhi". BBC News. 1 December 2017. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  37. ^ "Madame Tussauds Delhi to officially open for public on December 1". The Indian Express. 30 November 2017. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  38. ^ "Take a sneak peek into India's first Madame Tussauds in Delhi – Wax figure of PM Narendra Modi". The Economic Times.
  39. ^ "Wax museum feels Delhi heat, Madame Tussauds shuts". The Indian Express. 30 December 2020. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  40. ^ "Madame Tussauds to Reopen in Delhi in 2022, to Offer Discount for Covid Warriors, Jabbed Visitors". 24 May 2021.
  41. ^ "Madame Tussauds Beijing" (in Chinese). Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  42. ^ "Madame Tussauds Chongqing" (in Chinese). Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  43. ^ "Madame Tussauds Shanghai" (in Chinese). Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  44. ^ "Madame Tussauds Wuhan" (in Chinese). Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  45. ^ "Madame Tussauds Hong Kong" (in Chinese). Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  46. ^ "Madame Tussauds Delhi". Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  47. ^ "Madame Tussauds Opens Today at Noida's DLF Mall | Noida News – Times of India". The Times of India. 19 July 2022.
  48. ^ "Madame Tussauds Tokyo" (in Japanese). Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  49. ^ "Madame Tussauds Singapore". Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  50. ^ "Madame Tussauds Bangkok". Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  51. ^ "Madame Tussauds attraction to open in Dubai in 2021".
  52. ^ "Madame Tussauds Amsterdam" (in Dutch). Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  53. ^ "Madame Tussauds Berlin" (in German). Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  54. ^ "Madame Tussauds Blackpool". Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  55. ^ "Egy szobában Beyoncé, Széchenyi, Hszi Csin-ping és Zámbó Jimmy – bemutatták a budapesti Madame Tussauds-t". (in Hungarian). 23 May 2023. Retrieved 23 May 2023.
  56. ^ "Madame Tussauds Istanbul" (in Turkish). Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  57. ^ "Madame Tussauds London". Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  58. ^ "Madame Tussauds Prague" (in Czech). Archived from the original on 11 September 2018. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  59. ^ "Madame Tussauds Vienna" (in German). Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  60. ^ "Madame Tussauds Hollywood". Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  61. ^ "Madame Tussauds Las Vegas". Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  62. ^ "Madame Tussauds Nashville". Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  63. ^ "Madame Tussauds New York". Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  64. ^ "Madame Tussauds Orlando". Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  65. ^ "Madame Tussauds San Francisco". Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  66. ^ "Madame Tussauds Washington D.C." Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  67. ^ "Madame Tussauds Sydney". Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  68. ^ The Weather Channel (30 December 2009). "Al makes people jump out of their skin" – via YouTube.
  69. ^ "Carmelo Anthony Takes The Time To Prank Visitors at Madame Tussaud's " – All Ball Blog with Lang Whitaker". National Basketball Association.
  70. ^ Pincus, Eric (11 September 2014). "Jeremy Lin pranks at Madame Tussauds, pretends to be wax likeness". Los Angeles Times.
  71. ^ "Entertain This! – Daily hits and misses in pop culture". USA Today.
  72. ^ "Watch Ant & Dec prank Olly Murs for Saturday Night Takeaway". Digital Spy. Retrieved 13 July 2023.
  73. ^ "Meltdown (At Madame Tussaud's) – Meltdown – Steve Taylor Discography". Sock Heaven. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
  74. ^ "Cloning Around With Steve Taylor". Todays Christian Music. Archived from the original on 12 March 2017. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
  75. ^ "Beatles waxworks sell for £81,500". BBC. 28 October 2005.
  76. ^ Wooding, Dan (1978). Rick Wakeman: The Caped Crusader. p. 104. Granada Publishing Limited.


External links[edit]

51°31′22″N 0°09′19″W / 51.52278°N 0.15528°W / 51.52278; -0.15528