World famous wax museum brand Madame Tussauds has opened a branch in Prague near Old Town Square. Visitors can see some 40 figures, and the number should grow.
Museum Madame Tussauds Prague is the first branch of the London-based museum in Central and Eastern Europe.
There are now 24 branches worldwide, but the business model of the Prague one is different, as it is a franchise held by the Czech company Wax Museum Prague. It is the first Madame Tussauds branch to be run as a franchise.
The former Wax Museum Prague at Celetná 6 underwent a multi-million euro renovation to bring it up the standards of the Madame Tussauds’ brand, which is run by global firm Merlin Entertainments
Stars on display include Freddie Mercury, George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Tom Cruise, Vin Diesel, Jim Carrey, Jean-Paul Belmondo, David Beckam and Bruce Willis. For younger visitors there’s pop singers Rihanna and Justin Bieber as well as Twilight star Taylor Lautner.
These are complemented by local historical figures from the original wax museum like Václav Havel, Franz Kafka, Alfons Mucha, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and Charles IV.
Most of the figures are set up so people can interact with them to to take photos, looking like they actually met. George Clooney, for example, is at a table with a chair next to him that people can sit in.
Staff has to check the figures daily for damage from fans, and touch up the makeup and costume details. One rare occasions, more extensive repairs have to be made.
The figures from Madame Tussauds are quite detailed. For example, four people worked for six months on the figure of Lady Gaga.
Several figures are currently being made, and will be added to the displays when they are finished. These include Karel Gott, Miloš Forman, Jan Saudek and Andy Warhol.
The Czech operators had to attend training courses from Merlin Entertainments. “Madame Tussauds is a world-class brand on every continent and virtually everyone knows it. Naturally, both the precise design of the exhibits and the interior of the museum correspond to this brand,” Wax Museum Prague founder Zdeněk Kočík said.
The project was announced in May. “We are delighted to be launching our first Madame Tussauds franchise in Prague, with an experienced local partner. … Merlin will be looking at other Madame Tussauds franchise opportunities around the globe, in markets where the brand is not already present. Future partners are already being identified,” Chris Scurrah, franchise director of Merlin Entertainments, said at the time.
Cooperation between Wax Museum Prague and Merlin Entertainments, owner of the Madame Tussauds brand, to April 2014 when one floor of the museum hosted a small display of wax figures of Hollywood stars as a test to see if they would be popular.
Wax Museum Prague opened March 29, 1997. It got competition on the same Old Town street when French-based wax museum Grévin opened a branch. It closed after four years, but then reopened as Chocotopia – Wax Museum of Legends by Grévin, combining the history of high-end chocolate with the wax figures.
Madame Tussauds has been creating wax figures of the biggest personalities of the day for more than 200 years. Marie Tussaud traveled Europe with her collection of wax figures starting in 1794. She opened her first permanent museum in London in 1835.