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Madame Tussuads Wax Museum

Museums, Galleries and Archives ()


Madame Tussaud was a prodigy of Dr. Curtius who began her career in wax modeling in 1770. Her work speaks for her rise to fame. After a long journey around Great Britain, Madame Tussaud landed in London. The first museum was built in London near the location it resides today in 1835. Centuries later, a museum was built in New York City. The popularity of the other museums around the world have brought tourists to this historic attraction.

Madame Tussauds in the heart of Times Square Night life
Iconic wax figures in Madame Tussauds
President Obama and First Lady Michelle wax likeness
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge royally impressive wax figures


Madame Tussaud was born Marie Grosholtz in Strasbourg, France in 1761. When she was six she moved to Paris with her mother, who worked for Dr. Phillippe Curtius. He was a doctor but also a wax modeler. Grosholtz was intrigued by his work; he became her mentor and she became his prodigy. Dr. Curtius launched a museum in 1770 introducing and showcasing life-size wax figures. Locals were astounded. Grosholtz was so skilled that  her work attracted French writer, Voltaire in 1778. She crafted his likeness with skilled hands . Impressed with her work Madame Elisabeth, sister to Louis XVI took the budding artist as her tutor in 1780. With that job came nine years in the glamorous Palace of Versailles.

After that Dr. Curtius requested his prodigy return to Paris. He was involved in the revolutionary movement and had invited the leaders to be guests in his home. This led to his taking part in the raid of the Bastille. With the Revolution underway, Tussaud was instructed by the government to create death masks of all the well-known figures, including the king and his infamous bride. The task was not limited to the living, however. The government required her to plunder through dead bodies to retrieve heads of the people who had fallen victim to the dreaded guillotine. The leaders then put these gruesome figures in Curtius’ exhibit. The people were drawn in because they knew they were to see the representations of the women and men whose merciless drive for political and societal change reformed the lives of the survivors.

As the museum flourished, the great Dr. Curtius died. Tussaud then inherited his exhibit with big plans. Francis Tussaud, a civil engineer, joined her journey for fame a year later as her husband. They had two sons Francis and Joseph. The Napoleonic Wars had led to a decline in popularity of the exhibit. However, Tussaud was bent on the idea of fame and notoriety. To fight the economic distress, she moved to England without her husband. With every intent on showcasing her collection, she took her wax figures and crossed the English Channel. She was joined by both of her sons and never returned to Paris to reunite with her husband. For the next 33 years she visited every major city in Britain with her unique art form. She began to see that traveling could not last forever, so in 1835, she started a museum in London. This exhibit is not very far from the current location on Baker Street. The arrival of her legacy in New York did not happen until 2000.

Before she passed away, she made her final wax figure, a self-portrait. Her name was everywhere and she had gained the fame that she had desperately wanted. Her family continued the businesses that still thrive today.  The Merlin Entertainments Group runs the world renowned museum. However, the company is very keen on keeping her artistic vision and vivacious spirit alive and well. Now she has entertained millions of people for more than 200 years with her talents and distinctive art form leaving her mark from New York to Hong Kong. Who will you see when you visit Madame Tussauds Wax Museum? 


234 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036
New York, New York 10036
Phone Number
Open 365 days Opening Times vary monthly Call to clarify for your planned visit date.
  • Art and Art Museums
This location was created on 2015-02-12 by Kelly Swindell, Marshall University; Instructed by David J. Trowbridge.   It was last updated on 2015-03-06 by Kelly Swindell, Marshall University; Instructed by David J. Trowbridge.

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