Sunday, March 29, 2009

On Madame Tussauds: The glory of being immortalized in a wax museum

Not that I can persuade anyone, but after visiting Madame Tussauds Wax Museum yesterday in New York City, I found myself having to defend it to a friend who thinks I am totally losing my mind if I think those figures are anywhere close to a likeness of the real person and hasn't been there. The Museum, near Times Square is at 234 West 42nd Street, N.Y.C. 10036, tel.(800)246-8872.

Trouble is, you see, I am one of the converted. I went to see Madame Tussauds in London a few years ago and it is absolutely the best; the best of all wax museums (if indeed there are many others), and possibly the best branch of its own museums. Both London and New York, at least, have detailed instructions on how models are made, and for more information there is a documentary linked here.

President Barack Obama

Before visiting President Obama in person, or really any of the famous people at Madame Tussauds, it would be a good idea to get a first impression by visiting the museum beforehand. It might take away some of the surprise, though. These are real stars of the day, and what a great record it is to have, now and for many years.

I did see detailed information on the Rachael Ray show of her experience with Madame Tussauds. That said friend thinks that all those chefs on television aren't really that famous. Yes, well. I remember hearing that her likeness was "most requested" of all the television chefs.

Rachael Ray in NYC

Here is a summary (from of some of the models at the museum:

# The Opening Night Party, set in an Italian baroque garden, features Woody Allen, Bette Midler, Nicolas Cage, Hugh Grant, Oprah Winfrey, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Donald Trump:

# Madame Tussaud's Story, spanning 200 years of history, features Marie Antoinette and Napoleon's lover Josephine:

# Behind the Scenes is a multimedia exhibit about the process of creating the incredibly life-like wax figures at the museum featuring Al Roker and others:

# The Gallery, set in a meeting of the United Nations, features The Dalai Lama, Maya Angelou, John F. Kennedy, Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Jr., Buffalo Bill and Diana, Princess of Wales:

# Popular Culture, a whirlwind history of the trendsetters of the 20th century, features Mikhail Barishnikov, Babe Ruth, Janis Joplin, Charlie Chaplin, The Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, Bill Gates and Neil Armstrong:

There are branches of Madame Tussauds around the world. Models are rotated to other branches or archived to change the exhibits from time to time. Madame Marie Tussaud, a Frenchwoman, moved to London where she first opened a museum of her figures in 1835.

This website says that since 2007, anyone can get a wax figure made, if they can stand four months of detailed measurements and questions and around $270,000. That's why it's very much an honor to get a wax impression made.

What do you think? Do you believe the wax models at Madame Tussauds are identical and true to life?

Madame Tussauds Wax Museum link

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