Madame Tussauds is a major success story for London, which in combining glamour and glitz with an incredible history has grown to become a world-famous tourist attraction with branches all over the world – If only the young Marie Tussaud knew what she was going to start!
One of the most popular London tourist attractions owes its existence to one young woman, Marie Tussaud. Marie Tussaud was born in 1761 in Strasbourg, France. Marie’s mother worked for Dr. Philippe Curtis, a practitioner of wax modelling. It was Dr. Curtis who taught the young Marie how to model in wax.
By the ripe age of sixteen, Marie was making wax models of the likes of Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin and Jean-Jaques Rousseu. By the early nineteenth century the young artist had a remarkable collection of wax models and in 1802 Miss Tussaud went to London to exhibit her work at the Lyceym Theatre. As a result of the war between Britain and France, Marie Tussaud was unable to leave Britain and toured extensively throughout the land, showing off her rousing wax model collection.
In 1835 Marie settled in Baker Street, London and opened a museum to showcase her work. The museum was an instant success and one of its main attractions was the chamber of horrors, which included victims of the French Revolution, murderers and other criminals.
The museum rapidly expanded its collection and by the mid-1800s consisted of approximately 400 figures, with a large number of the models having been inherited from Dr. Curtis, Marie Tussauds’ wax model mentor. In 1950 Madame Marie Tussaud died in her sleep.
In the late nineteenth century the wax museum was moved to Marylebone Road and maintained its status as a popular tourist venue in London until 1925 when the devastating fire of London destroyed many of the original wax models. Sixteen years later London was heavily bombed and many of the remaining models melted into ungainly lumps. Several of the original moulds and castings did however survive and many of the original figures were remade and can be seen in the history section of the museum today.
Today Madame Tussauds in London provides an interactive and enthralling day out. With so many celebrities gathered in the British capital, one fun activity in London these days is to do a touch of celebrity spotting. From the Queen and Prince Phillip to Kylie Minogue, from Lady Gaga and Jonny Depp to the Beetles and Benny Hill, you can rest assure that at Madame Tussauds you’ll come face to face with a celebrity or two!