Museo delle Cere (the Wax Museum) is one of my favourite tourist attractions in Rome. It’s been around for over 50 years and was, they say, “inspired” by Madame Tussauds. That may well be, but it’s pretty much the craziest museum I have ever seen, which is why I love it so. The decor is slightly dusty 70’s basement rec room. The figures are supposedly made from wax but they look an awful lot like department store mannikins to me. And they are all pretty interchangeable except for facial hair and mode of dress. There are 2 basic models: short fat male (Mussolini, Napoleon, Picasso) and tall thin male (Obama, Lincoln, Totti). There is only one woman on display and she is fictional and in a coma.
There is a sort of order to the layout I suppose. All the popes are together, for example. But some of the placements seem a bit odd. Abraham Lincoln shares the stage with Oscar Wilde. Charlie Chaplin turns up next to Italian soft rock band Pooh. As a bonus, there are several instruments of torture and an electric chair on display in the room of Italian inventors and heroes. One room showcases dinosaurs and Sleeping Beauty (together at last!). There’s some sort of gizmo inside the Sleeping Beauty figure that makes her chest move up and down as if she is breathing, which is wonderful and creepy at the same time.
Not convinced? Let the museum’s brochure have the last word: “Even your sons will enjoy this easy approach to culture, which will provide them with hints to deepen the study of the historical events, the literature, and the geography related to the exhibition”. (English translations of museum brochures is a whole other topic worthy of its own post).