Madame Tussauds to open in Istanbul
ISTANBULThe world’s most famous wax museum, Madame Tussauds, is set to open a branch on Istanbul’s İstiklal Avenue on Nov. 28.
At a press conference before the official opening, Sarper Hilmi Suner, the General Director of Legoland Discovery Center and Madame Tussauds in Istanbul, said the museum featured wax figures with a history going back 250 years.
“Merlin Entertainment Group operates the world’s largest entertainment center, and we made three big investments in the last three years; the Sea Life Aquarium, Legoland Discovery Center and now the Madame Tussauds in Istanbul,” Suner said.
“Before bringing it to Turkey, we asked people ‘Which artists do you want to see the most? Which figure would make you the happiest?’ Then we examined the answers carefully. Finally we drew up a list and later got in touch with the famous figures who were still alive, and the heirs or relatives of those who have passed away. After that we got to work,” he added.
The museum will include the wax sculptures of 55 famous figures from Turkey and around the world. Local figures include Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Rumi, Barış Manço, Adile Naşit, Süleyman the Magnificent, Mehmed the Conqueror, Sinan the Architect, Sabiha Gökçen, Arda Turan, Hidayet Türkoğlu, Beren Saat, Kerem Bursin and Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ, while the international stars include Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Audrey Hepburn, Beyonce, Rihanna, David Beckham, Lionel Messi, Marilyn Monroe and Muhammed Ali.
“Taking photographs for the sculptures’ design takes a very long time and it is difficult work. Around 350 photos are taken. Lots of details are taken into account when photographing, such as eye color, finger size and fingerprints. It takes a lot of effort. These photographs are developed in our studios in London. I am proud that we have a very committed Turkish sculptor who works with an international company as well as sculptors from other countries. We are trying to create identical figures,” Suner said.
Sculptors traveled to Konya for Rumi
Suner said that because of the museum’s international 250-year history, they were able to access many archives and information on deceased figures to feature. They also traveled to the Central Anatolian province of Konya to research the 13th century Sufi poet Rumi.
“There were some interpretations of Rumi’s body size. We had nothing but a few miniatures of him. After we conducted extensive research, we got hold of some resources and used them as a base. Of course, the most important thing here was to feel him while making his sculpture. So our team went to Konya. His 22nd generation grandchildren Esin Bayru and Faruk Hemdem Çelebi helped our team a great deal. Our team watched a Whirling Dervish performance and visited Rumi’s shrine. They tried to capture the soul of this place and as a result, produced an extraordinary figure,” he added.
“To give the faces aesthetics, they are made out of wax. The bodies are made of fiberglass material to make them long-lasting. A 3D mask and other measurements are taken as a base and a kiln bust is created ... Then it turns into wax, and we work on the hair and eyebrows, which are created with real hair,” Sumer said regarding the wax-making process.
Some of the figures take up to eight months to create, depending on their features, he also said.
“Süleyman the Magnificent’s sculpture took seven to eight months. It is all about details. These were made in our London studio, where Turkish sculptors made great contributions,” Sumer added.
The new museum in Istanbul will be open to visitors on Nov. 28.