Madame Tussauds is a house name, synonymous with accuracy, creativity and skill. The history of Madame Tussaud is somewhat gory. Seeing her being held for three months under the threat of execution during the French Revolution due to teaching at Versailles Palace. Later during the revolution, she hunted through the piles of severed heads to create their likenesses and the death masks made revolutionary flags that were paraded through Paris. After that she toured Europe and settled into London to open her attraction.
Since then, the attractions have spread to all the world’s major cities and while in Florida it is well worth booking a trip to Madame Tussauds among your other Orlando attraction tickets. However there has recently been an upswing in people’s interest in attractions that do not claim excellence. The Museum of Bad Art in Boston is such an exhibition. Revelling instead in the human need to express itself, regardless of quality. According to Mike, Curator in chief of MOBA : “I believe that many people appreciate the fact that the Museum Of Bad Art is not an exercise in condescendingly making fun of unskilled artists, but rather an appreciation that many people share the urge to express themselves through art and that it’s not easy. We have fun with the images and mock, if anything, people in the art world who aggrandize themselves and their institutions.”
In an effort to express themselves through the medium of wax, some have achieved more resemblance than others, but we have compiled the museums with the most tenuous hold on celebrity features.
Louis Tussauds – Niagara Falls
This Canadian establishment has recently received some poor press due to an inaccurate representation of Beyoncé, some feeling it a political comment, others assuming it is merely on par with the rest of the offerings. A visit from TV presenter Jonathan Ross brought to light some of the less recognisable figures as he enjoyed his trip to the museum immensely, though perhaps not in the manner the proprietor intended.
On his last visit to the museum, Mark Murdoch felt so strongly that he was brought to blogging about it: “Whether it's Madonna, the five wives of Henry VIII (historians normally favour six), or the Harry Potter diorama where Harry was represented by a traffic cone on the day we visited, you get the feeling that this is where work experience kids in the waxworks game get their start. Then they claw their way up the ladder where, if they are lucky, they will get to ply their trade with the Madame.”
Hollywood Waxwork Museum
Currently holding the title of ‘The Worst Waxwork Museum in America’, Hollywood Waxwork Museum offers a lot if you enjoy speculation. While some of the figures are vaguely recognisable, they looked somewhat uneasy to be there. The biggest question that seems to haunt this museum is how they choose which film to picture the celebrity in? Whether they are due to cheaper sets and costumes or in an attempt to be different, the poor waxworks are often portrayed in the celebrity’s least successful film.
Jamie Lee Curtis Taete wrote a scathing open letter on Vice that began: “I recently visited your Los Angeles location, and was exceptionally disappointed with what I saw. Upon entering, I was greeted by your Tom Hanks in Castaway waxwork. It was not very good. Scary, even. I have never seen Castaway, so there may actually be a scene where Tom Hanks becomes blind in one eye. But I doubt that this is the case. But it wasn't just your Tom Hanks that was awful. It was all of your waxworks. They look like something from the nightmares of a person who has been blind since birth and has no real concept of what human beings look like.”
Lebanon’s Waxwork Museum
In this unusual little museum, the figures are made of silicone, though that makes them no less threatening. Just outside of Beirut, the figures of political leaders and well-loved celebrities are jumbled together, posing stiffly with rigor mortis smiles and an attempt at animatronics.
Alex Hoban described the museum’s curating on Vice: “Fidel Castro with an empty chessboard being watched from afar by the Pope. Sounds like it should be a metaphor for something, but actually it's what's known in the museum curator's biz as a “Just shove it anywhere”.”
Hall of Presidents and First Ladies – Gettysburg
This small attraction that embodies much of American ideals unfortunately closed at the start of the year, but though the collection has been split up, the public auction drummed up a fair bit of interest. The museum predates the Disney version and at the time it was opened in 1956 it was modern and innovative. However considering it closed in late 2016, the unmoving faces, voice actor’s feeble attempts and the unflattering white lights seemed dated. While the voice actors work through president 1-33, the various personalities fail to impress.
The First Ladies are a third of the size and are mute despite their husbands’ grumbling. The waxworks themselves are less enthralling than their real-life counter parts. The Editors of Roadside America comment: “Several actors vary their voices as they try to imagine what Presidents 1 through 33 sounded like. George Washington is pompous, Teddy Roosevelt shrieks, tubby William Howard Taft grumbles like a cartoon walrus. Benjamin Harrison cheerfully announces, "America to me was good!" but other Presidents sound less satisfied. Franklin Pierce says of his four-year term, "The times were out of joint." Andrew Johnson complains, "I was misunderstood."
Bible Walk – Ohio
The only life-sized waxwork museum in Ohio has a religious twist that cannot be ignored. The 300 figures displayed in 70 scenes also have a former life that the owner of the museum does her best to ignore, feeling it detracts from the glorifying element of the museum. However these waxworks undeniably once depicted celebrities, while Tom Cruise masquerades as Jesus and Prince Phillip hides as Abel, the owner refuses to point out the religious icons previous identities.
The museum still draws a fair crowd despite the owner’s refusal for certain patrons. Julia Mott Hardin, the director of Bible walk says “I’ve had calls from people who wanted to take the tour, but only if I accompanied them pointing out the celebrities. I refused. The museum is about glorifying God and his work.”
Louis Tussauds – Great Yarmouth
It seems the name of Madame Tussaud’s great grandson has little luck in the waxwork game. Though this museum has been closed for some years, it deserves a mention as prior to its closure it was dubbed as the worst waxwork museum in the world. Some reviews took it with good humour: “If you come here and expect really good wax figures you may as well stay away. Either you'll take it with a good dose of humour or you'll really, really feel sorry for the entrance fee, no matter how cheap it is. Our children are too young to know most of the people on display here but the few they are familiar with, like Michael Jackson, the Royal family, Hitler or Elvis - they recognised not even one and stated that these figures looked nothing like the original.”
The poor waxworks on display developed something of a cult following and the eventual closing of the museum was met with sadness and nostalgia.
Image Credit: Trip Advisor, Daveynin, Freedom’s Falcon, P.A Onsite Auction Company, Union Features, Alban Donohoe Rex
If you want the chance to snap some selfies with celebrities, Madame Tussauds is the next best thing, and unlike the museums above, the figures here look identical to the stars! Click here, to view our great value tickets.
For more blog posts like this try...