The very first wax statue that Marie Tussaud sculpted was of Voltaire, in the year 1777.
Who doesn't want to be immortalized in a wax statue, and when it is being sculpted by the Madame Tussauds wax museum, it gives you all the more reason to aspire to become a celebrity! Buzzle gives you a peek into some of the most interesting facts this museum has to offer.
Founded by French artist Anna Maria "Marie" Tussaud, the Madame Tussauds wax museum continues to top the must-watch list of every tourist visiting London, even today. The museum hosts an array of waxworks of various eminent figures-historical and current, pertaining to all fields. Today, it displays several royal figures, politicians, film, and sports personalities, and even some of the most infamous people known to man. Wondering why everyone is going gaga over the works of this museum? Buzzle lets you in on what the hype is all about.
Interesting Facts About the Madame Tussauds Museum
The museum was first located on Baker Street, where visitors were charged to get a glimpse of the exhibitions. It was later shifted to Marylebone Road, in the year 1884.
Since Madame Tussauds does not own the enfranchisement anymore, the apostrophe in Tussauds
is no longer used.
Owing to the tremendous work that goes behind creating the hands of the wax figures, they are never sculpted! The hands of the celebrities are always created by making a life cast.
In order to create wax statues of celebrities who have passed away or cannot come in for a measurement sitting, sculptors rely solely on photographs to get the figure right.
The hair of the statues is regularly washed and conditioned. Sometimes, even the personal stylist of a celebrity provides essential tips.
Red silk thread is used to replicate the veins present in each eyeball, and knotted rope is used for the veins of the rest of the body.
The vital statistics (essential to sculpt a statue) of all the celebrities are kept confidential.
In order to sculpt a wax figure, more than 500 measurements of the celebrity are taken!
The London gallery hosts nearly 400 sculptures, roughly equivalent to an astounding 2,400 lbs of wax!
Often, the celebrity decides the clothes that his/her wax figure adorns. Some even donate clothes from their wardrobe so that the final look is perfect.
The London museum has survived a fire (1925), an earthquake (1931), and bombing during the World War II (1940).
Creation of Wax Statues
The making of a statue is a tedious process, where the subject of interest is invited for detailed measurements by highly-trained sculptors.
Over 250 measurements, photos, and other details are carefully noted before the process of molding begins.
Once the measurements are taken, two different molds - one of the head and the other of the body are prepared. A clay head and body are then sculpted with the available measurements.
Sculpting of the body needs perfection. Metal poles are used to fix the legs in a particular position, whereas aluminum is used for casting the hands.
The next step is to form a wax head from the clay head. This is done by creating new pieces of clay which are sectioned along the head. These sections are later filled with plaster, and allowed to dry and set. Voila! The wax head is ready.
Now, with all the parts molded, the process of cleaning the wax begins. This includes adjusting wrinkles, freckles, preparing the eye holes, and other minute details. The wax is then smoothened using tools such as a Brillo and non-latex sponge.
The different pieces of mold are put together, soaked in warm water, and then immersed in beeswax. It is then wrapped in a towel in order to cool down.
After that is done, the sculptors proceed to getting the skin tone right. A colorist is appointed who goes through a designated color pallet, and carefully chooses a suitable skin tone.
After finalizing the color, a brown-base is applied to the wax, followed by the selected colors for the skin, in different layers.
The next step is to insert the hair strands, which goes without saying, are in thousands. The tedious part? It is the fitting of each strand of hair individually with a tool - one strand at a time! Needless to say, it takes almost a month to complete this task.
The museum has a variety of options to choose from when it comes to replicating the eyes. The measurements of the iris, the pupil, and the eyeball are taken, and then molded with the color of the eyes of the celebrity.
In order to get the correct dimensions of the teeth, celebrities are either requested for a dental impression of their teeth, or the sculptors have to rely on external measurements, and create a set of false teeth.
An entire statue, along with its final touches, takes approximately 4 months to complete, and is done at an expense of around $125,000.
Galleries Around the World
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Las Vegas, U.S.A.
New York City, U.S.A.
Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
Hong Kong, China
San Francisco, U.S.A.
The next time you visit any of the aforementioned cities, do take a trip to this museum. It hosts a number of statues, right from Tinker Bell, Sleeping Beauty, and Spiderman, to Nelson Mandela, Charlie Chaplin, and Madame Tussaud herself!