Let’s get one thing clear, right from the start: All wax museums are unacceptable. Having done no research on the topic, I am certain that wax museums were invented to address a shortage of nightmares during, like, the Great Nightmare Depression of the 11th century or some such. What else can explain the non-intuitive desire to make figurines of people that look mostly equivalent to embalmed bodies? Even if it is a very good wax replica, the main effect is seeing something that looks convincingly like someone famous, but isn’t, which is what Elvis impersonators are for — and they can sing! I was once taken to a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum, the contents of which included a wax replica of the then-world record holder for the male with longest fingernails (I AM TELLING YOU DO NOT GOOGLE IT), and that sufficed to give me nightmares for the intervening decades since. Until today, I could have confidently told you it was the worst humanoid ever made of wax.
That’s because the Krakow Wax Museum — already famously mediocre, at least according to a 2.5-star rating on Trip Advisor — was put on international blast this week when a TikTok video showcasing some of their worst efforts went viral. Everything in the video was terrible (with the possible exception of Shrek, which looked at least passably like Shrek), but the outstanding moment was the display featuring, apparently, a rendition of British royalty Prince William and Kate Middleton in their wedding finery.
I would say that it’s hard to pin down why these figures are so bad, but it isn’t hard so much as time-consuming. Kate Middleton looks like a corpse bride that was dug up and posed a-la-Psycho. Even if the person tasked with making these replicas had no waxworking experience, it is confounding that they messed up her hair — one of her loveliest and most identifiable features — so badly, with a ratty wig and hairline that converts her forehead into a dramatic fivehead, topped with a sort of lily pad fascinator rather than the veil she actually wore. It seems possible that this figure was commissioned by Middleton’s most jealous sorority sisters, or possibly Megan Markle, in an admittedly genius passive-aggressive revenge plot. If asked to identify which famous person was rendered in this statue, my first three guesses would be ACK, OH NO, and PLEASE STOP STARING AT ME.
And William … ah, William. I guess this one is slightly better than Middleton, in the sense that I would be able to correctly guess whose likeness was being attempted, but that triumph is immediately eclipsed by musings about why Prince William failed to wash his face on his wedding day. In an effort to contour, perhaps, the artist managed to make the figure look … just very dusty. I am not a wax artist or wax museum curator, but I do know that the quality one wants to most avoid in the presentation of lifelike waxworks is dustiness, specifically. This effect somehow also extends to the hair, blending into the skin tone the way someone looks after a hard day of sandblasting furniture. Maybe the tense expression is due to some of that grit getting between his giant teeth. Admittedly, Prince William has prominent teeth, but as photos of him notably reveal, he also has lips, which this particular homage has failed to adequately distinguish from the rest of his skin tone. The expression suggests that the statue is somehow self-aware enough to understand what it looks like, which is the only thing that could make this notion more nightmarish. You’re welcome!
Now listen, I am truly just a humble citizen of planet Earth, and I cannot begin to solve our many problems, but there is one thing of which I am certain: We don’t need wax museums. We can stop doing this. At this point, we can turn to our news cycle for nightmares aplenty, and if we want to know what celebrities look like, we can reference the literally thousands of images generated of them every month. Let’s do this one thing, humanity. We could really use a win.
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Ten Painful Stories of the Dutch Colonial Slave Trade
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The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation Presents The Feminine in Abstract Painting
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The Santa Fe gallery features Indigenous textiles and jewelry from the early 19th century to today.
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NYU Steinhardt Opens 2023 MFA Thesis Exhibitions
Taking place at 80WSE Gallery in New York’s Greenwich Village, Part I is on view from late March through April while Part II opens in May.
Hokusai’s “Great Wave” Makes a Splash at Auction
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MTV’s The Exhibit Is Back With an Inflatable Dolphin
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Florida Principal Ousted Over “Pornographic” Michelangelo Sculpture
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Three Looted Antiquities at the Met Repatriated to Turkey
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This week, the world’s lightest paint, Pakistan’s feminist movement, World Puppy Day, and were some of Vermeer’s paintings created by his daughter?