JACKIE MOY

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House of Wax

I have loved wax museums since I was a kid. I never had the courage to enter the hall of horrors, the regular exhibits were creepy enough for me. I recently visited Madame Tussaud's in Tokyo and was impressed by the new direction of the museum. There was a clear embrace of interactivity. Instead of figures being placed on a plinth, out of reach, you are encouraged to play with them. Many of the displays feature props and wigs to engage you with the figures. There are employees wandering throughout, adorably pointing out ways to improve your selfies. You come away from the experience feeling like you have actually met a real live famous person, it is much more fun! 

My favourite part of the exhibit showed how the figures are made. There were different stations showing in depth the many processes that create a figure. I loved this because it is a dream of mine to work here. There was a fascinating exhibit about Madame Tussaud herself. I never knew that she got her start during the French revolution, when she created wax replicas of decapitated heads. Decapitated heads were impaled on spikes and displayed to the public- a disgusting yet effective PR strategy. The heads would rot over time, necessitating Tussaud's immortalising methods. She was under pressure to produce these replicas under penalty of her own beheading. She became a master. I love the fact that her last wax figure was a self-portrait, right before she died. 

Wax museums are often seen as cheesy tourist attractions. I think they have more cultural value than most art museums because of their accessibility. Most people can recognise George Clooney and Angelina Jolie, it easy to understand what their figures represent. At a wax museum we are shown an image of the time we live in through the people we think are important.