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Wacky Wax Museums of St. Petersburg

29. October 2010 by Michelle 0 Comments

Alexei Petrovich and Prince Alexei Nikolaevich

The ancient custom of making wax masks from the faces of the dead marked the beginning of the wax figure phenomenon. The art of wax portraits in Russia dates back to 1698 when Peter the Great returned home from a voyage with a wax head modeled after his own, along with seven busts of the participants of the Great Embassy. He developed a great interest in this art form and began ordering more.


The first wax museum in St. Petersburg was opened in 1738 with portrayals of contemporary kings or high ministers. Admission was costly and meant to entertain only the elite. However, wax figures became more popular and started being used in shop windows as mannequins, in barbershops to promote new haircuts, and in bookshops to acknowledge renowned Russian writers.


Soon, wax museums began appearing all over the Russian Empire from Moscow to Odessa. They became favorite attractions for all classes of people, until the fad melted away after the Russian Revolution of 1917. Several decades passed before this art form was reborn by The St. Petersburg Wax Museum in the late 1980s.


Today, this museum owns a group of companies that organize touring Russian wax exhibitions all over the world. If you’re visiting St. Petersburg, you can view any of the four permanent displays at the Baltiyskiy Dom Theater, the Planetarium of St. Petersburg, the Stroganoff Palace, and the Anichkov Palace.


Some sculptures resemble their muses more than others. Can you guess who these famous figures are?


Political Leaders

Vladimir Lenin

Joseph Stalin

Mikhail Gorbachev

Bill Clinton

George Bush

Adolf Hitler

Osama Bin Laden


Show Business Stars

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Brad Pitt

Elton John

Freddie Mercury

Gerard Depardieu

Michael Jackson

Steven Seagal


Tom Cruise


Oddities from Guinness World Records