Millions and millions of people have flocked through the doors of Madame Tussauds since they first opened over 200 years ago and it remains just as popular as it ever was. There are many reasons for this enduring success, but at the heart of it all is good, old-fashioned curiosity.
The making of a Star
Madame Tussaud is born Marie Grosholtz in Strasbourg.
Marie models the famous author and philosopher, Francois Voltaire.
Marie becomes art tutor to King Louis XVI’s sister and goes to live at the Royal Court in Versailles.
Marie is called back to Paris to help Dr Curtius with reproducing the heads of guillotine victims.
Marie is imprisoned with her mother in the notorious Laforce Prison,Paris. On her release she is forced to prove her allegiance to the Revolution by making death masks of executed nobles and her former employers, the King and Queen.
The French Revolution ends and Marie inherits Dr Philippe Curtius’ wax exhibition.
Marie marries François Tussaud, a French soldier. They have three children together: first a daughter (who sadly died shortly after birth), followed by two sons: Joseph (1798) and François (1800).
Bringing history to Britain
Marie (together with her eldest son Joseph) leaves France and travels to England to exhibit her collection of wax figures. Her first exhibition is in the Lyceum Theatre. 33 years follow during which Marie Tussaud travels through England, Scotland and Ireland. Marie continues to produce wax figures, despite her extensive travelling.
With her sons, Madame Tussaud establishes a base in London at ‘The Baker Street Bazaar.’
Punch Magazine coins the name Chamber Of Horrors for Madame Tussaud’s ‘Separate Room’, where gruesome relics of the French Revolution are displayed.
Madame Tussaud dies and leaves her exhibition to her two sons.
A historic attraction is born
The exhibition is moved to the current location of Madame Tussauds London. This happened under the careful management of Joseph Randall Tussauds, the eldest son of Marie’s son François. This same place is still home to the exhibition in England today.
The attraction is devastated by fire.
Restoration is completed with the addition of a cinema and restaurant.
Madame Tussauds is struck by a German World War II bomb destroying 352 head moulds, and the cinema.
Attractions around the world
The second European Madame Tussauds attraction opens in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
The first American Madame Tussauds opens in Las Vegas.
The second American Madame Tussauds attraction opens in New York, and the same year Madame Tussauds opens in Hong Kong.
Madame Tussauds opens in Shanghai.
Madame Tussauds will be part of the international attraction group Merlin Entertainments from May 2007. The following attractions form part of Merlin Entertainments, in addition to Madame Tussauds: Alton Towers, London Eye, Chessington World of Adventures, The Dungeons, Earth Explorer, Gardaland, Heide Park, Legoland, Sealife, Seal Sanctuaries, Thorpe Park and Warwick Castle
The third European site becomes Berlin, where the attraction opens in ‘Unter den Linden’.
The fourth American site opens in Hollywood.
Madame Tussauds Bangkok opens in December - the third attraction in Asia.
Vienna (Austria) and Blackpool (UK) both open in April 2011 - the global count is now up to 12 attractions. Celebrating 250 Years!
The next 250 years
G'day! Madame Tussauds arrives Down Under in Sydney.
Madame Tussauds attractions open in Tokyo and Wuhan.
The fifth US attraction opens in San Francisco, California, and China’s third attraction opens in Beijing.