What’s The Appeal of Madame Tussauds Wax Museum?


Has anyone checked this museum out yet? Does anyone want to? I have to admit I don’t really understand the appeal of looking at wax replicas of celebrities. Maybe if there were celebrity replicas fashioned out of mashed potatoes…

Perhaps more interesting, given the plethora of museums in DC, what’s your favorite museum in the city?

30 Comment

  • Funny you should mention this. Last night I ran into an acquaintance who was going to a party being held there and he invited me along. Even for free entry and free food I couldn’t muster the Give-a-S**t to actually bother changing my plans for the evening to head there. It just does absolutely nothing for me.

  • as a sculptor, i find the process to create wax figures really appealing.
    the modeling, mold making, casting is pretty damn cool.

    the best museum? nga or saam.

  • I was stuck in London a while ago and did Madam Tussauds there. On one hand it is indeed lame, on the other its funny to see a whole range of celebrities, most of whom you’ve forgotten. More directly, the quality of the statues is really, really good, and you do find yourself marveling at how lifelike they can be. Of course, the London one also has to infamous Dungeon, where all sorts of gruesome executions and tortures are displayed in their intestinally-explicit glory. The London one is also almost 200 years old, which adds to its appeal.

  • saf

    Can’t help you here, as I have no interest in wax museums.

    Although, there used to be a wax museum here. By the time I arrived in DC, it had become a club (called, not surprisingly, The Wax Museum). It was over somewhere around 4th, 5th, something like that, and K NW, then it moved to 4th and E SW, then it became a club. I liked that place, because I like live music, but the wax things all around the room were pretty weird.

    Oh, and my favorite museum changes with my mood, but I do highly recommend the National Building Museum.


  • Yeah I don’t get it either. I don’t really want to see most of them in real life, let alone in wax…unless it was really them encased forever in wax mwuahahaha!

  • Looks like it’s made of bricks and glass, to me…

  • Wax museums scare the ever living crap out of me. Every morning I walk by the Madame’s haunted house and every morning whoopie goldberg is there leering out the window at me, as if to judge my early morning mid-week hungover…. DON’T judge me whoopie.

  • I’m interested in what seems to be a general appreciation for SAAM, because it just didn’t do it for me. I think a really underappreciated treasure is Dumbarton Oaks, in Georgetown. It’s small, but quite beautiful, and unusually for a smaller non-Smithsonian museum, free. They advertise themselves as pre-Columbian, but there’s some of that, a room of Greek and Roman, and a medieval room. I particularly enjoyed the ancient stuff, since there seems to be a relative lack of that in DC. But don’t confuse with Dumbarton House. (Yep, I did that while trying to meet up with a friend.)

  • I took my folks to MT’s last year after it opened and, while it was interesting and a bit freaky, it was NOT worth the $25 entry fee. My favorite wax statue was of Hillary Clinton, which truly seemed life-like with her scary, psycho blue eyes.

  • I like the Portrait Gallery. Same principle as MT but in varied mediums and subjects.

  • Not a big fan of wax dummies, but my friend and his then-fiancee went there and took a series of photos with various musicians, DC politicians, and other notables, then had the photos printed in black and white on cardstock and posted as table signs (instead of table numbers) at their reception. So, you would walk in, and your card would read “Duke Ellington,” or “Marion Barry,” and you found your table that way. It was really, really cool.

  • DIK/Windows is the scariest wax museum in DC.

    As far as favorite museum I am a big fan of the National Building Museum.

  • As a huge dork, I think MT would be a hoot, especially in London. Now that I know the one in London has a dungeon, I kinda feel compelled to go (to heck with the exchange rate!). Anyway, the American Indian museum has the best food, and I dig the National Gallery of Art, but Air and Space and American History will always hold special places in my perpetually 11-year-old heart.

  • For fans of the truly macabre, National Museum of Crime and Punishment is really interesting.

  • I don’t know how I’d feel if I went to a wedding and discovered I was seated at the Marion Barry table.

  • Renwick Gallery and Textile Museum are fun and off the beaten path.

  • Rachel: its very gruesome, doesn’t allow children, and forbids photos. I snapped one on the sly, and still find it in my boxes every couple years. A delightful one of a man getting his spine crushed or something. I also remember they have the disembowelment of Guy Fawkes and some other lovely things. And if you like that, go to the Dungeons of London, which is the bloody history of England done in Disney-esque puppetry (again with disembowelments and such).

    The exchange rate is brutal, fish and chips are now about $15, more if you want them wrapped in newspaper.

  • The museum at Walter Reed Army Hosital is very cool. It’s called the National Museum of Health and Medicine. I cannot believe that no one mentioned this museum which is practically your neighbor. Really if you are into this kind of stuff, it is great. We went on Halloween one time – seemed appropriate. There is all kinds of neat things there – old surgical instruments, Civil War medicine artifacts and the a discussion of battlefield medicine. But best of all are things like a giant hairball removed from a 12 year old girl – she complusively ate her own hair or the jars of baby skeletons that show fetal development or the Cyclops baby preserved in formaldehyde


  • Its small, but I dig the postal museum. You get to make free postcards!! (yes, I’m easily impressed).

  • I like SAAM and the Building Museum. And the Newseum, though its price tag is unfortunate.

  • Two words: CREEP-Y. I went the opening weekend and I swear George Washington blinked at me. I will not be going back.

  • Schweeney I second those museums as well. We went to them both the same day and they were great! The Renwick had a great craft exhibit at the time which was very intersting. (and not the crafts you see at a Craft Fair type stuff)

  • Hs anyone visited the wax museum in Harper’s Ferry?

  • @Kay, I stumbled across the Walter Reed Army Hosital Museum a few weeks after moving to the District. I was amazed that such an interesting and diverse collection of medical history was so far hidden from public awareness. My friend and I were literally the only visitors the entire time we milled about the collection and easily spent 3 hours taking in all the various oddities and interests that the museum had to offer, I highly reccomend it for those of you looking for an unorthodox museum experience.

  • The Walter Reed Museum used to be on the site of the Hirshhorn Museum.

  • @flipflopirate: we too were the only ones in the museum at the time. It really is a hidden treasure. I have also been to a similar museum in London at The Royal College of Surgeons – they have a human cadaver split up into sections and you can pull out a section as if turning pages in big gruesome book! Also a medical museum in Philly although I have never been.

  • If you want to check out MT without the $25 fee, they are having a 1 year anniversary celebration between Oct 8-11. Admission is $1 but you have to sing “happy birthday” at the ticket office… no joke. Still may not be worth it.

  • youdontknowme: you are super cool. Scan and upload! Also thanks Kay and others for the mention of the Walter Reed Museum. I must go! Also, I think I might have a tequila lunch and go sing Happy Birthday at MT. Thanks for the info!

  • wax figures are rather outdated concept…. like “dioramas”

  • Madam Tussaud’s has lowered their prices since opening and District residents get a discount. I think I paid $11. The statues are very eerily lifelike. Marry Barry is what makes DC’s unique, but you can always visit Player’s Lounge in Congress Heights if you want to get you picture taken with the real McCoy.

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