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Madame Tussauds is a wax museum in Londonmarker with branches in a number of major cities. It was set up by wax sculptor Marie Tussaudmarker. It was formerly spelt "Madame Tussaud's", but the apostrophe is no longer used.


Marie Tussaudmarker, born Anna Maria Grosholtz (1761–1850) was born in Strasbourgmarker, Francemarker. Her mother worked as a housekeeper for Dr. Philippe Curtius, who was a physician skilled in wax modelling. Curtius taught Tussaud the art of wax modelling. In 1765, Curtius made a waxwork of Marie-Jeanne du Barry, Louis XV's mistress. A cast of that mould is the oldest work currently on display. The first exhibition of Curtius' waxworks was shown in 1770, and attracted a large audience. The exhibition moved to the Palais Royalmarker in Parismarker in 1776. He opened a second location on Boulevard du Templemarker in 1782, the "Caverne des Grands Voleurs", a precursor to the later Chamber of Horrors.

Tussaud created her first wax figure, of Voltaire, in 1777. Other famous people she modelled at that time include Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Benjamin Franklin. During the French Revolution she modelled many prominent victims. In her memoirs she claims that she would search through corpses to find the decapitated heads of executed citizens, from which she would make death masks. Following the doctor’s death in 1794, she inherited his vast collection of wax models and spent the next 33 years travelling around Europe. Her marriage to Francois Tussaud in 1795 lent a new name to the show – Madame Tussauds. In 1802, she went to Londonmarker. As a result of the Franco-British war, she was unable to return to Francemarker, so she travelled throughout Great Britainmarker and Irelandmarker exhibiting her collection. For a time, it was displayed at the Lyceum Theatremarker. From 1831 she took a series of short leases on the "Baker Street Bazaar" (on the west side of Baker Streetmarker between Dorset Street and King Street) - which featured in the Druce Portland Case sequence of trials of 1898-1907. This became Tussaud's first permanent home in 1836.

By 1835 Marie had settled down in Baker Street, London, and opened a museum.
Madame Tussauds indoor on Baker St
of the main attractions of her museum was the Chamber of Horrors. This part of the exhibition included victims of the French Revolution and newly created figures of murderers and other criminals. The name is often credited to a contributor to Punch in 1845, but Marie appears to have originated it herself, using it in advertising as early as 1843.Other famous people were added to the exhibition, including Horatio Nelson, and Sir Walter Scott. Some of the sculptures done by Marie Tussaud herself still exist. The gallery originally contained some 400 different figures, but fire damage in 1925, coupled with German bombs in 1941, has rendered most of these older models defunct. 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. Other ancient faces from the time of Tussaud include Robespierre, George III and Benjamin Franklin. In 1842, she made a self portrait which is now on display at the entrance of her museum. She died in her sleep on 15 April 1850.

By 1883 the restricted space and rising cost of the Baker Street site prompted her grandson (Joseph Randall) to commission the building at its current location on Marylebone Roadmarker. The new exhibition galleries were opened on 14 July 1884 and were a great success. However, the building costs, falling so soon after buying out his cousin Louisa's half share in the business in 1881, meant the business was under-funded. A limited company was formed in 1888 to attract fresh capital but had to be dissolved after disagreements between the family shareholders, and in February 1889 Tussaud's was sold to a group of businessmen lead by Edwin Josiah Poyser. Edward White, an artist dismissed by the new owners to save money, allegedly sent a parcel bomb to John Theodore Tussaud in June 1889 in revenge.

Madame Tussaud's wax museum has now grown to become a major tourist attraction in London, incorporating (until recently) the London Planetariummarker in its west wing. It has expanded with branches in Amsterdammarker, Berlinmarker, Las Vegas, New York Citymarker, Hong Kongmarker, Shanghai, Washington, D.C.marker and Hollywoodmarker. Today's wax figures at Tussauds include historical and royal figures, film stars, sports stars and famous murderers. Known as "Madame Tussauds" museums (no apostrophe), they are owned by a leisure company called Merlin Entertainments, following the acquisition of The Tussauds Group in May 2007.

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. However, the statue has since been repaired and the perpetrator has admitted he attacked the statue to win a bet. The original model of Hitler, unveiled in Madame Tussauds London in April 1933 was frequently vandalised and a replacement in 1936 had to be carefully guarded.

Madame Tussauds in popular culture


  • In 1894, Tussauds were sued by Alfred John Monson. Monson was tried for and acquitted of the murder of Cecil Hamborough. Tussauds placed a waxwork of Monson near to the Chamber of Horrors. Monson sued for libel and won, although the damages awarded were one farthing.
  • Indian actor Aamir Khan is the only actor who has ever declined the offer of Madame Tussauds.
  • Having been 18 at the time of his wax sculpture being made, Bill Kaulitz of Tokio Hotel is the youngest person ever to be immortalized in a statue of wax at Madame Tussauds'.

See also


  1. : "Madame Tussaud (who gave the attraction its now-jettisoned apostrophe) ..."
  2. Times Online Style Guide — M: "Madame Tussauds (no longer an apostrophe)."
  3. Pilbeam, ibid. pp. 166, 168-9
  4. Pilbeam, ibid. pg. 170
  5. Pilbeam, ibid. pg. 199
  7. Monson v Tussauds [1894] 1 QB 671
  8. Pilbeam ibid. pg 211



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