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February 24, 2010

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Up close with real wax jobs

MILLIONS of people have flocked through the doors of Madame Tussauds since they opened around 175 years ago and the wax museums worldwide remain as popular as ever.

Madame Tussauds Shanghai, its eighth branch in the world and the first on the Chinese mainland, displays foreign celebrities such as Princess Diana, Bill Gates, David Beckham, Tom Cruise, and historical figures like Albert Einstein.

Located in one of the hottest shopping malls in Shanghai, the New World Shopping Plaza, the 9,600-square-meter museum features more than 70 figures.

It is divided into five categories - Asian film stars, Hollywood stars, world heroes, sports stars and popular musicians.

It features contemporary Chinese figures, such as the country's first taikonaut Yang Liwei, Nobel Prize winning physicist Chen-Ning Yang, Olympic hurdler Liu Xiang, basketball star Yao Ming and entertainers Andy Lau, Jay Chou and Jackie Chan.

They are not stand-alone statues, but are placed in the context of their achievements. NBA star Yao dribbles a basketball, hurdler Liu accepts his Olympic gold medal. Visitors can do business with Gates, see singer Lau or Super Girl champion Li Yuchun on stage and take pictures with Brad Pitt, Beckham and other figures.

Interactive games are available in seven zones, including music, movies, arts, science and sports. They can compete with Tiger Woods, Olympic gold medal ping pong player Deng Yaping and even Einstein.

Visitors can watch the process of producing wax figures - and even order statues of themselves.

As with all Tussauds museums, there's a large, interactive Chamber of Horrors featuring both wax figures and real ones that jump out at visitors. It's popular on Halloween.

Exhibits are not roped off, as in museums, allowing visitors to step into historical settings and get up close and personal with the rich, famous and powerful.

Mme Tussaud (1761-1856) opened her first museum in London in 1835.

In the 1770s the French woman learned wax modeling from her mentor, Dr Philippe Curtius. At the age of 17, she became an art tutor to King Louis XVI's sister at the Palace Of Versailles.

During the French Revolution, she was forced to prove her patriotism by making death masks for executed aristocrats and made a model of the guillotine that beheaded Marie Antoinette.

She arrived in London in the early 19th century with a traveling exhibition of revolutionary figures, relics and effigies of public heroes and rogues. She opened her permanent museum in 1935.

Address: 10/F, 2-68 Nanjing Rd W.

Hours: 10am-10pm (no admission after 9pm)

Tickets: 135 yuan for adults; 100 yuan for students; 275 yuan for combo package (includes two adult tickets and one guidebook); 260 yuan for family combo (two adults and one child under 1.2 meters); 80 yuan for special combo (only children under 1.2 meters or seniors aged 65 or above)

Tel: 6359-7166


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