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Madame Tussaud's Museum

The Full History of Madame Tussauds

FRANCE, 1770-1802

Through talent and determination, a young girl named Marie Grosholz came to be numbered among the most famous of English institutions.

1761 - Marie Grosholz, later known as Madame Tussaud, is born in Strasbourg.

1770 - Marie's mother's employer, a doctor called Philippe Curtius, opens an exhibition of life-size wax figures at the Palais Royale in Paris. Marie learns the art of wax modelling from him.

1777 - Marie models the famous author and philosopher, Francois-Marie Arouet Voltaire.

1780 - Marie becomes art tutor to King Louis XVI's sister and goes to live at the royal court in Versailles.

1789 - The outbreak of the French Revolution. - Marie returns to Paris, later helping Curtius to mould the heads of some of the guillotine's victims – among them her Versailles acquaintances.


1794 - Marie Grosholz inherits Curtius's collection of figures.

1795 - She marries François Tussaud, an engineer, but leaves him eight years later to bring the collection on a tour of the British Isles.


For the next 33 years, she lives the exhausting and precarious life of a travelling showman, moving from town to town with her caravans, organising advertising, and encouraging newspaper anecdotes, or organising charity benefits to bring in useful patrons.

She suffers shipwreck in the Irish Sea, and fire during the Bristol Riots of 1831. Yet, throughout the travelling years, new figures are constantly introduced.

1835 - Madame Tussauds settles into a permanent home in The Bazaar, Baker Street, London.

"Visitors entering the Bazaar from Baker Street proceed to a saloon richly decorated with mirrored embellishments. Here sits an aged lady, with an accent which proclaims her Gallic origins. Were she motionless, you would take her for a piece of waxwork. This is Madame Tussaud, a lady who is in herself an Exhibition." [from an 1842 guidebook]

1846 - Punch Magazine coins the name "Chamber of Horrors" for Madame Tussauds separate room where gruesome relics of the French Revolution are displayed.

1850 - Madame Tussaud dies. In her old age, supported by two sons, she had achieved great success. She had resisted a U.S. buy-out, her memoirs had been published, and her portrait was painted by a court painter. She had been immortalised by Dickens (as Mrs Jarley) and caricatured by Cruikshank.


1884 - Madame Tussauds grandson, Joseph Randall, directs the move to the present site in Marylebone Road.


1925 - Fire guts the whole building, destroying not only almost all the wax figures and their costumes, but priceless furnishings, paintings and relics too.

Fortunately, many of the old head moulds were saved, and from these the Exhibition was rebuilt, opening 3 years later with the addition of a large Cinema and Restaurant.


1940 - A German bomb destroys the Cinema. Ironically, the figure of Hitler is one of the few figures to survive unscathed.

1958 - Madame Tussauds opens the Commonwealth's first Planetarium on the site of the old cinema.

1971 - A new Madame Tussauds opens its doors in the Kalverstraat, Amsterdam, returning to the continent for the first time since 1817.

1981 - Madame Tussauds Amsterdam expands their collection and moves to celebrated Dam Square right in the heart of the city.

1993 - The Spirit of London, a spectacular animatronic ride, arrives at Madame Tussauds.

1995 - The London Planetarium is re-opened after a £4.5 million redevelopment, including the installation of the world-leading Digistar II Star Projector.

1996 - A bigger, better, more chilling than ever Chamber of Horrors is opened at Madame Tussauds, London.

1999 - Madame Tussauds opens in Las Vegas featuring American superstars and Hollywood legends.

2000 - Madame Tussauds New York opens, featuring the city's 'Movers and Shakers', alongside a whole world of stars.
Madame Tussauds opens in Hong Kong featuring over 100 wax figures of internationally-known personalities and local celebrities

2002 - Madame Tussauds starts to introduce exciting new interactive attractions where guests get to feel what it is like to be famous. In the ‘Goal!’ attraction guests step into the moment when David Beckham prepares to take the 93rd minute free kick that leads England into the World Cup - his figure is created with a beating heart.
After a sitting at Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II’s 22nd figure is created for a Golden Jubilee attraction at Madame Tussauds. The ropes surrounding the Royal Family are taken away forever as guests are invited to have a personal ‘Audience with The Queen.’

2003 - Tussauds collaborates with Disney to create a Treasure Planetarium attraction, and with Universal Pictures to create The Hulk attraction.
The Chamber-Live! gives a new injection of fear to the Chamber Of Horrors.

2004 - More new interactive attractions open; In ‘Divas’, starring Beyonce, Britney and Kylie, guests are taught dance moves and perform on stage with feedback on their performance from Beyonce via video link.
‘Bollywood for Beginners’ opens with the new figure of Aishwariya Rai and guests get to perform in a scene from the film ‘Bride & Predjudice’.
‘Marry me George’ sees guests getting the chance to have a dinner date with Mr Clooney and trying out their best chat-up lines – they are rewarded with either diamond engagement ring or the bill for dinner!

2005 - Madame Tussauds gets rocking with a new show ‘Air Guitar Star’ starring The Darkness’ Justin Hawkins. Guests are taught air guitar moves and battle it out to become the top Rock God!
Guests are invited to try and put a twinkle in the eye of the new Robbie Williams figure, made because the previous figure was literally ‘worn out’ from the over-attention of eager fans!