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The Story Behind the Famous Wax Museum

Madame Tussauds

Who is Madame Tussauds?

Born in 1761 to a French family, Marie Tussaud was characterised by her artistic flair, entrepreneurial streak and fearless sprit. Having mastered the art of wax sculpting in her teens, Tussaud took up the role of art tutor to the royal household in Versailles, Paris. After the gruesome French Revolution she went to Britain to explore new opportunities. For 33 years she staged her collection of the famous and infamous throughout Britain, bringing significant global events in life. 

200 Years of Extraordinary History

For over two centuries, Madame Tussauds has been an iconic destination, drawing millions of visitors through its doors. From its humble beginnings to global success, the museum's enduring popularity is fueled by one timeless element: curiosity.

Wax figure of Madame Tussaud depicted wearing a black Victorian-style dress with intricate lace detailing and a high collar. The dress is incredibly detailed with folds and layers, making it a lifelike representation of Madame Tussaud in her Victorian era attire.

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 On the eve of The French Revolution, Marie returns to Paris.

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.

Wax figure of Madame Tussaud wearing a white Victorian-style dress with a high neckline and intricate lace detailing. She is holding a wax mold of a head with both hands, looking towards it with a joyful expression.

Bringing History to Britain

1802 Madame Tussaud takes her exhibition on tour to the British Isles, leaving behind her husband.

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.

A historical black and white photograph of the exterior of Madame Tussauds London building. The building has a neoclassical facade with columns and ornate decorations, and a sign with the Madame Tussauds logo is visible above the entrance.

A Historic Attraction Is Born

1884 Marie’s grandsons move the attraction to its current site on Marylebone Road

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.

A historical black and white photograph of the exterior view of Madame Tussauds wax museum building from Marylebone Rd in the 1950s. The building's end is visible, featuring large windows and a prominent sign.

Attractions Around the World

1972 The second European Madame Tussauds attraction opens in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

1999 The first American Madame Tussauds opens in Las Vegas.

2000 Madame Tussauds opens in Hong Kong opens and the same year second American Madame Tussauds attraction opens in New York.

2006 Madame Tussauds Hong Kong reopens on May 18. Lots of celebrities join in: Aaron Kwok, Bae Yong Joon, Xiang Liu, Tiger Woods, Connie Chan, Jay Chow, Miriam Yeung, and Leon Lai.

2007 In order to celebrate 10th anniversary of Hong Kong's return, Madame Tussauds Hong Kong has specially adds six celebrities including Xiaoping Deng, Yat-sen Sun, Enlai Zhou, Zedong Mao, Jiabao Wen and Liwei Wei.

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.

2011 Celebrating 250 Years!

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The Next 250 Years

2012 G'day! Madame Tussauds arrives Down Under in Sydney.

2013 Madame Tussauds attractions open in Tokyo and Wuhan.

2014 The fifth US attraction opens in San Francisco, California, and China’s third attraction opens in Beijing.

2015 Madame Tussauds lands in Orlando, Florida.

2016 Madame Tussauds opens attractions in Istanbul and Chongqing.

2017 Attractions in Nashville and Delhi open.

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