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History

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250 years of extraordinary history

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.

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The making of a star

  • 1761 Madame Tussaud is born Marie Grosholtz in Strasbourg.
  • 1777 Marie models the famous author and philosopher, Francois Voltaire.
  • 1780 Marie becomes art tutor to King Louis XVI’s sister and goes to live at the Royal Court in Versailles.
  • 1789 Marie is called back to Paris to help Dr. Curtius with reproducing the heads of guillotine victims.
  • 1793 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.
  • 1794 The French Revolution ends and Marie inherits Dr. Philippe Curtius’ wax exhibition.
  • 1795 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).

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Bringing history to Britain

  • 1802 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.
  • 1835 With her sons, Madame Tussaud establishes a base in London at ‘The Baker Street Bazaar.’
  • 1846 Punch Magazine coins the name Chamber Of Horrors for Madame Tussaud’s ‘Separate Room’, where gruesome relics of the French Revolution are displayed.
  • 1850 Madame Tussaud dies and leaves her exhibition to her two sons.

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A historic attraction is born

  • 1884 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.
  • 1925 The attraction is devastated by fire.
  • 1928 Restoration is completed with the addition of a cinema and restaurant.
  • 1940 Madame Tussauds is struck by a German World War II bomb destroying 352 head moulds, and the cinema.

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Attractions around the world

  • 1970 The second European Madame Tussauds attraction opens in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
  • 1999 The first American Madame Tussauds opens in Las Vegas.
  • 2000 The second American Madame Tussauds attraction opens in New York, and the same year Madame Tussauds opens in Hong Kong.
  • 2006 Madame Tussauds opens in Shanghai.
  • 2007 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
  • 2008 The third European site becomes Berlin, where the attraction opens in ‘Unter den Linden’.
  • 2009 The fourth American site opens in Hollywood.
  • 2010 Madame Tussauds Bangkok opens in December - the third attraction in Asia.
  • 2011 Vienna (Austria) and Blackpool (UK) both open in April 2011 - the global count is now up to 12 attractions. Celebrating 250 Years!