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Who is Madame Tussaud?

Alex Riches

We look at how the world-famous Madame Tussauds waxwork attraction came to be

Who is Madame Tussaud?

And freeze... This is you chance to get up close and personal with the rich and the famous.

EVER wanted to shake hands with George Clooney? Pose next to Johnny Wilkinson? Even bow in front of the Queen? You can... Sort of. Madame Tussaud’s waxwork attraction gives you the opportunity to meet the rich and the famous and has done for more than 200 years. But how do you get into the business of making waxworks in the first place?

Madame Tussaud was born in Strasbourg, France and moved to Paris in 1770 where she learnt how to make wax models. Originally she made religious models, but quickly moved on to more contemporary subjects. Her skill and ability gained the attention of the French royal family, who invited her to the Palace of Versailles to school King Louis XVI’s sister.

Not long after she moved in the people in France decided they weren’t very fond of having a royal family and promptly got rid of them. To prove her forced allegiance to the feudalist nobles (the people who kicked the aristocrats out of power) she was ordered to make death masks of many of the royals after they were beheaded. Death masks are cast models of heads that could be transported to Paris and stuck on pikes to shame those who had recently been executed. Think of them as an early and graphic form of Facebook – ‘Mary Antoinette has just been tagged at the Guillotine. Emmanuel Joseph Sieyes likes this’. Crude but effective!

But this was no way to make a living and pretty soon Madame Tussaud was looking for a way out. She found it! England was free, open, and safe. Well, safer than revolutionary France, that’s for sure. After she arrived she set about using her talents as a waxwork modeller to create a touring waxwork showcase. She went from city to town, showing people the most famous and popular people of that age. Eventually, her and her sons settled in London and permanently set up the Madame Tussaud waxwork attraction. The very same attraction that pulls in more than three million visitors every year.

The only thing that has changed from 200 years ago is that

1) Madame Tussaud is dead.

2) The sculptors have dispensed with making death masks of the recently beheaded. Although, they have got Peter Andre on show, so there’s still one model there who was based on someone who is somewhat brain-dead...

But there is a lot more than just waxworks at the attraction. There is a 4D ride experiences with the Marvel Avengers and the Chamber of Horrors. This is where the visitors can come face to face with some of the most villainous characters in history in an interactive horror maze.

There is currently a ‘2 for 1’ offer at Madame Tussaud’s for students. You can apply through our website. Tickets and opening times can be found at the Madame Tussaud’s website.

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