Madame Tussauds
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Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds (cream building) includes the former London Planetarium (dome) since 2010
Entrance sign in London

Madame Tussauds (, )[1][N. 1] is a wax museum in London; it has smaller museums in a number of other major cities. It was founded by wax sculptor Marie Tussaud in 1835. It used to be spelled as "Madame Tussaud's"; the apostrophe is no longer used.[2][3] Madame Tussauds is a major tourist attraction in London, displaying the waxworks of famous and historical figures, as well as popular film and television characters from famous actors.



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

Marie Tussaud was born as Marie Grosholtz in 1761 in Strasbourg, France. Her mother worked for Philippe Curtius in Bern, Switzerland, who was a physician skilled in wax modeling. Curtius taught Tussaud the art of wax modelling beginning when she was a child. He moved to Paris and took his young apprentice, then only 6 years old, with him.[4]

Grosholtz created her first wax sculpture in 1777 of Voltaire.[5] At the age of 17, she became the art tutor to Madame Elizabeth, the sister of King Louis XVI of France, at the Palace of Versailles. During the French Revolution, she was imprisoned for three months and awaiting execution, but was released after the intervention of an influential friend.[4] During the Revolution, she made models of many prominent victims.[6]

Grosholtz inherited Curtius's 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 and took his surname. She renamed her show as Madame Tussaud's. In 1802, she accepted an invitation from Paul Philidor, a lantern and phantasmagoria pioneer, to exhibit her work alongside his show at the Lyceum Theatre, London. She did not fare particularly well financially, with Philidor taking half of her profits.

She was unable to return to France because of the Napoleonic Wars, so she traveled throughout Great Britain and Ireland exhibiting her collection. 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).[7] 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.[8]


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

By 1835, Marie Tussaud had settled down in Baker Street, London and opened a museum.[9] One of the main attractions of her museum 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.[10]

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, including Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington, Henry VIII and Queen Victoria.[11]

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 German bombs 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. 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.[12]

First Mortgage Debenture Stock of Madame Tussaud's Ltd., issued 15. September 1949

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.[13] 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.[14] The first wax sculpture of a young Winston Churchill was made in 1908; a total of ten have been made since.[15] The first overseas branch of Madame Tussauds was opened in Amsterdam in 1970.[16]

Ownership changes

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;[17] the company was merged with Blackstone's Merlin Entertainments and operation of Madame Tussauds was taken over by Merlin.[17][18] After the Tussauds acquisition, Dubai International Capital gained 20% of Merlin Entertainment.[19] The Tussauds Group as a separate entity ceased to exist.

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.[20] Although the attraction sites are owned by Prestbury, they are operated by Merlin based on a renewable 35-year lease.[18]

Recent status

Waxwork of Elizabeth I in London

Madame Tussaud's wax museum became a major tourist attraction in London. 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).

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.[21] 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.[22][23][24] In January 2016, the statue of Adolf 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.[25]

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.[26][27][28] 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.[29]

Museum locations

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 opened in Hollywood in 2009


Wax figure of Queen Elizabeth II at Madame Tussauds in Shanghai, China


North America


In popular culture

Celebrity poses with their wax figures

Many times celebrities pose 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.[56]
  • In 2010, Ozzy Osbourne did similarly in New York to promote his Scream (2010) album.[57]
  • NBA players Carmelo Anthony and Jeremy Lin pranked fans during the unveiling of their statues at the New York and San Francisco museums, respectively.[58][59]
  • In 2015, Arnold Schwarzenegger posed as the Terminator statue in the Hollywood museum, to promote a charity event.[60]


  • Some sequences of the film Housefull 3 were shot in the Madame Tussauds, London.
  • Parts of the film Fan (2016) were shot at Madame Tussauds, making it the first Indian film to be shot there.
  • Madame Tussauds features in the film Shanghai Knights (2003).


  • Marie Tussaud is featured in an Assassin's Creed Unity side mission, where the player is tasked with retrieving the severed heads of which Madame Tussaud was commissioned to make replicas.


  • There is a brief reference to Madame Tussaud's work in the Sherlock Holmes story "The Mazarin Stone".
  • In Jules Verne novel Around the World in Eighty Days, his author says that the only thing the wax figures sculpted by Madame Tussaud lack is speech.
  • In Elizabeth Bowen's novel The Death of the Heart (1938), Portia and Eddie have tea at Madame Tussaud's and Portia is disappointed that the waitresses are real and not made of wax.
  • In the novel Edgar Allan Poe and the London Monster (2016) by Karen Lee Street, Madame Tussaud meets twice with Edgar Allan Poe and C. Auguste Dupin at her exhibition halls.


  • In Gilbert and Sullivan's song "My Object All Sublime", from The Mikado (1885), the title character sings of punishments fitting the crime, including:

The amateur tenor, whose vocal villainies
All desire to shirk,
Shall, during off-hours
Exhibit his powers
To Madame Tussaud's waxwork.

Stage productions

  • Marie Tussaud is mentioned in The Scarlet Pimpernel (first run on stage in 1903, first publication 1905).

List of notable wax figures


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.[64]




Washington, D.C.



Las Vegas

New York


San Francisco


Hong Kong






See also


  1. ^ The family themselves pronounce it .[]


  1. ^ Wells, John C. (2009). "Tussaud's". Longman Pronunciation Dictionary. London: Pearson Longman. ISBN 978-1-4058-8118-0.
  2. ^ Rothstein, Edward (24 August 2007). "Ripley's Believe It or Not - Madame Tussauds". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010. Madame Tussaud (who gave the attraction its now-jettisoned apostrophe) ...
  3. ^ Times Online Style Guide - M: "Madame Tussauds (no longer an apostrophe)."
  4. ^ a b "The Baker Street Bazaar". 26 May 2012.
  5. ^ Du Plessis, Amelia. "England--Madame Tussauds". Informational site about England. Archived from the original on 13 December 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  6. ^ "Marie Tussaud Facts, information, pictures | articles about Marie Tussaud". Retrieved 2016.
  7. ^ Pilbeam (2006) pp. 102-106
  8. ^ Pilbeam (2006) pp. 100-104
  9. ^ "The History of Madame Tussauds". Madame
  10. ^ Berridge, Kate...But now British actress Emma Watson is already to set and appear here... (2006). Madame Tussaud: A life in wax. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-052847-8.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ 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 2017.
  13. ^ Pilbeam, ibid. pp. 166, 168-9.
  14. ^ Pilbeam, ibid. p. 170.
  15. ^ Pamela Pilbeam Madame Tussaud: And the History of Waxworks. P.199.
  16. ^ "Madame Tussauds' to open shop in Delhi - Times of India".
  17. ^ a b Cho, David (6 March 2007). "Blackstone Buys Madame Tussauds Chain". The Washington Post.
  18. ^ a b "Merlin conjures up leaseback deal". The Daily Telegraph. 17 July 2007.
  19. ^ "Tussauds firm bought in £1bn deal". BBC News. 5 March 2007.
  20. ^ "Alton Towers sold in £622m deal". BBC News. 17 July 2007. Retrieved 2010.
  21. ^ "Adolf Hitler returns to Berlin museum after beheading". 14 September 2008. Archived from the original on 19 September 2008. Retrieved 2008.
  22. ^ Pilbeam, ibid. p. 199.
  23. ^ "Madame Tussauds to repair beheaded Hitler". Associated Press. 7 July 2008. Retrieved 2008.
  24. ^ Carrel, Paul (5 July 2008). "Man rips head from Hitler wax figure". Reuters.
  25. ^ Gur-Arieh, Noga (6 January 2015). "Madame Tussauds Museum in London Removed Hitler Figure". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Retrieved 2016.
  26. ^ [1]: "Madame Tussauds (no longer an apostrophe)."
  27. ^ "Madame Tussauds debuts in Delhi". BBC News. 1 December 2017. Retrieved 2017.
  28. ^ "Madame Tussauds Delhi to officially open for public on December 1". The Indian Express. 30 November 2017. Retrieved 2017.
  29. ^ "Take a sneak peek into India's first Madame Tussauds in Delhi - Wax figure of PM Narendra Modi". The Economic Times.
  30. ^ "Madame Tussauds Beijing" (in Chinese). Retrieved 2017.
  31. ^ "Madame Tussauds Chongqing" (in Chinese). Retrieved 2017.
  32. ^ "Madame Tussauds Shanghai" (in Chinese). Retrieved 2017.
  33. ^ "Madame Tussauds Wuhan" (in Chinese). Retrieved 2017.
  34. ^ "Madame Tussauds Hong Kong" (in Chinese). Retrieved 2017.
  35. ^ "Madame Tussauds Delhi". Retrieved 2017.
  36. ^ "Madame Tussauds Tokyo" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2017.
  37. ^ "Madame Tussauds Singapore". Retrieved 2017.
  38. ^ "Madame Tussauds Bangkok". Retrieved 2017.
  39. ^ "Mademe Tussauds Dubai". Retrieved 2019.
  40. ^
  41. ^ "Madame Tussauds Amsterdam" (in Dutch). Retrieved 2017.
  42. ^ "Madame Tussauds Berlin" (in German). Retrieved 2017.
  43. ^ "Madame Tussauds Blackpool". Retrieved 2017.
  44. ^ "Madame Tussauds Istanbul" (in Turkish). Retrieved 2017.
  45. ^ "Madame Tussauds London". Retrieved 2017.
  46. ^ "Madame Tussauds Prague" (in Czech). Archived from the original on 11 September 2018. Retrieved 2017.
  47. ^ "Madame Tussauds Vienna" (in German). Retrieved 2017.
  48. ^ "Madame Tussauds Holywood". Retrieved 2017.
  49. ^ "Madame Tussauds Las Vegas". Retrieved 2017.
  50. ^ "Madame Tussauds Nashville". Retrieved 2017.
  51. ^ "Madame Tussauds New York". Retrieved 2017.
  52. ^ "Madame Tussauds Orlando". Retrieved 2017.
  53. ^ "Madame Tussauds San Francisco". Retrieved 2017.
  54. ^ "Madame Tussauds Washington D.C." Retrieved 2017.
  55. ^ "Madame Tussauds Sydney". Retrieved 2017.
  56. ^ The Weather Channel (30 December 2009). "Al makes people jump out of their skin" – via YouTube.
  57. ^ Ozzy Osbourne scares people at Madame Tussauds. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  58. ^ "Carmelo Anthony Takes The Time To Prank Visitors at Madame Tussaud's " - All Ball Blog with Lang Whitaker". National Basketball Association.
  59. ^ Pincus, Eric. "Jeremy Lin pranks at Madame Tussauds, pretends to be wax likeness". Los Angeles Times.
  60. ^ "Entertain This! - Daily hits and misses in pop culture". USA Today.
  61. ^ "Meltdown (At Madame Tussaud's) - Meltdown - Steve Taylor Discography". Sock Heaven. Retrieved 2010.
  62. ^ "Cloning Around With Steve Taylor". Todays Christian Music. Archived from the original on 12 March 2017. Retrieved 2017.
  63. ^ "Beatles waxworks sell for £81,500". BBC. 28 October 2005.
  64. ^ "Now you too can play at being Sherlock Holmes". iNews. Retrieved 2020.
  65. ^ "Madame Tussauds(TM) London: One of London's Best Tourist Attractions". Retrieved 2018.
  66. ^ "EXO's Lay Meets His Wax Figure at Madame Tussauds in Beijing".
  67. ^ "List of Wax Figures".
  68. ^ "Wax Likeness of Supermodel Liu Wen Debuts at Madame Tussauds in Beijing".
  69. ^ "".
  70. ^ 3 Michael Jackson wax figures unveiled in Beijing -
  71. ^ "Whats Inside". Madame Tussauds Blackpool. Retrieved 2020.
  72. ^ "Madame Tussauds New York - Celebrity Wax Attraction in Times Square".
  73. ^ Graphico. "Famous Wax Figures and icons - Madame Tussauds New York".
  74. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 May 2015. Retrieved 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  75. ^ "Explore Madame Tussauds Shanghai". Archived from the original on 7 March 2014. Retrieved 2014.,
  76. ^ "Oh My, My, My...Troye Sivan is Joining Madame Tussauds Sydney!". Madame Tussauds Sydney. 27 February 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  77. ^ "Madame Tussauds Istanbul".


External links

Coordinates: 51°31?22?N 0°09?19?W / 51.52278°N 0.15528°W / 51.52278; -0.15528

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