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London Sights to See - Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and The London Planetarium
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One of the most popular London sightseeing attractions, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum (they dropped the apostrophe a while back) is one of the very few attractions in the great city of London that is centuries old and completely modern at the same time!

Madame Marie Tussaud learned her unusual craft of modeling figures in wax by creating death masks of those who were executed by guillotine in 18th and 19th century France. Among her "clients", if you will allow the use of the term, were Louis XVIand Marie Antionette. That mixture of precise art and macabre display is reflected in the modern museum - but with a big dose of fun mixed in!

The museum displays a large, and varying, collection of famous figures from world history along with the latest Hollywood celebrities. She was trained in her art by Dr. Phillipe Curtius in Bern, where her mother was Dr. C's housekeeper.  The present collection traces its origins to Madame Tussaud's inheritance of her tutor Dr. Curtius' collection in 1794. In 1802, she moved from Paris to London and the museum which bears her name began in 1835.

Despite all the historical baggage, far from being simply an historical relic, the collection has been continually updated and there are several very different subsets of displays for tourists of all interests.

The Chamber of Horrors continues the grisly tradition of displaying murders, bloody warlords and others - but, though realistic enough to scare sensitive children, the emphasis is on amusing visitors.

The Garden Party features a rotating roster of politicians both old and modern, movie celebrities, sports stars and others in the news for one thing or another.

The Spirit of London is a taxi-ride ala Disneyland's Haunted Mansion, but here it's through 400 years of English history. One highlight of the ride is a portion showing the sights and sounds of London at the time and place of Jack the Ripper, including the old carver himself.

The Grand Hall at Madame Tussaud's also has figures from British history, with a variety of famous (and not so famous) examples of Royalty and Head of State, and it was there that my own children got to see, and my daughter was photographed in, the wedding  of Prince Charles to Diana Spencer in 1982.

One of the most popular tourist attractions in London, the museum is typically crowded with visitors. There are over two million visitors annually. Everyone wants to have a photograph taken with celebrities ranging  from The Hulk to Brad Pitt, from Jack the Ripper to Princess Diana or Winston Churchill.  On our visit, my son had his picture taken with his hero, Dr. Who, as portrayed by Tom Baker, standing in front of the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space), with which he traveled the known, and unknown, universe.

The figures are almost all done with extraordinary fidelity. The lifelike figures are one of the reasons for the frightening effect in the Chamber of Horrors, which also shows a variety of modes of torture and execution. No expense has been spared to hire the finest modeling craftsmen to bring the figures to life.

Housed in the same building, and admitted on the same ticket, is the London Planetarium, renamed simply The Auditorium. Though shows have been reduced in number and length, visitors can still get an impressive view of the sky as seen from London's latitude and longitude. The current show lasts only ten minutes and with the renaming it's uncertain how long the owners - who also own Madame Tussauds - will continue it. So, catch it while you can.

The attractions are easily accessible via the tube (the London Underground subway system). Exit at the Baker Street (where Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson lived) tube stop, near Regent's Park. Expect to wait in line outside and dodge elbows inside, where there is still often a wait of 20 minutes or more. It tends to be a little less crowded in the very early or late hours.

Madame Tussauds
Marylebone Road
Telephone: +44 (0) 871 894 3000
Sightseeing, Tours, Attractions and Things to do in London. See Madam Tussauds Wax Museum.

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Death Masks - Louis XVI - Marie Antoinette - Dr. Phillipe Curtius - Chamber of Horrors - Garden Party - Spirit of London - Disneyland's Haunted Mansion - Jack the Ripper - The Grand Hall - Prince Charles - Wedding - Lady Diana Spencer - The Hulk - Brad Pitt - Princess Diana - Winston Churchill - Dr. Who - Tom Baker - TARDIS - London Planetarium - London Underground - Baker Street - Sherlock Holmes - Dr. Watson - Regent's Park

Page Updated 12:37 PM Sunday 2/7/2016