Waxworks museum will have Hungarian section

Good, bad, ugly and pretty at Madame Tussauds Budapest

The 25 Madame Tussauds worldwide will become 26 when a new branch of the waxworks museum opens near Vörösmarty tér in downtown Budapest in early 2022.

In addition to the waxworks of internationally famous and infamous contemporary and historical figures, the Budapest attraction will feature a dedicated section of several notable Hungarians. These are said to have been chosen after thorough market research and extensive negotiations, and will include former politicians, musicians, artists, sportspeople and others.

The Budapest Madame Tussauds will occupy some 2000 square metres, and one of the main objectives is described by the brand as being to allow visitors, especially younger audiences, to get to know the waxwork celebrities in a fun, immersive and interactive way.

Marie Tussaud, original name Marie Grosholtz, was born in Strasbourg, France, on December 1, 1761, and died in London on April 16, 1850. Her early life was spent first in Bern and then in Paris, where she learned the art of wax modelling from Philippe Curtius, whose two celebrated wax museums she inherited upon his death in 1794.

From 1780 until the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, she served as art tutor at Versailles to Louis XVI’s sister, Madame Élisabeth, and she was later imprisoned as a royalist. According to her memoirs, during the Reign of Terror she had the gruesome responsibility of making death masks from heads – frequently those of her friends – freshly severed by the guillotine.

Her marriage in 1795 to François Tussaud, an engineer from Mâcon, was not a success; and in 1802 she took her two sons and her collection of wax models to England. She toured the British Isles for 33 years before finally establishing a permanent home in Baker Street, London, in 1835, where she worked until eight years before her death. (In 1884 Madame Tussaud’s moved to Marylebone Road, London.)

Madame Tussauds museums (they later dropped the apostrophe) are topical as well as historical. Notorious characters and the relics of famous crimes are segregated in the “Chamber of Horrors”, a name coined jokingly by a contributor to Punch magazine in 1845. Many of the original models made by Marie Tussaud of her great contemporaries, including Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin, Horatio Nelson and Sir Walter Scott, are still preserved.

In July 2008 at Madame Tussauds in Berlin a 41-year-old German man brushed past two guards and decapitated a wax figure depicting Adolf Hitler. Last year, wax figures of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were moved from other members of the Royal Family at Madame Tussauds in London.

Today there are seven branches in North America, five in China and others in Tokyo, Singapore, Bangkok, New Delhi, Dubai, Amsterdam, Berlin, Istanbul, Prague, Vienna, Sydney and Blackpool, UK. The original is a major tourist attraction in London.

The Budapest attraction will be realised with the support of the Kisfaludy Program of the Hungarian Tourism Agency, based on an agreement between brand owner Merlin Entertainments and Dorottya Experience Kft.

Chris Scurrah, Merlin Entertainments’ franchise director, said: “We are delighted to be launching our Madame Tussauds franchise in Budapest with a local partner experienced in the field of brand-building and tourism. This will be the first full-scale franchise attraction of the Madame Tussauds brand.

“Following a successful opening, we will continue to look at other Madame Tussauds franchise opportunities around the globe, in markets where the brand is not already present. Future partners are already being identified.”

Miklós Köncz, general manager of Dorottya Experience Kft., said: “Our goal is to open a new Madame Tussauds attraction that adds another state-of-the-art venue to the list of tourist attractions in the heart of Budapest, while making the Madame Tussauds brand known and popular in Hungary.

“Works on the attraction are already in progress and we are looking forward to opening our doors to visitors from around the world in 2022. We plan to expand the range of the Hungarian touristic offering with an attraction applying an interactive and experience-based approach.”

Leave a Reply