Breathing Light Into Madame Tussauds

Originally founded in London in 1836, Madame Tussauds is the oldest wax museum in the world with locations in Europe, America, Asia and Australia. Each museum has an extensive collection of wax figures on display that offers its visitors the chance to be up-close and personal with lifelike representations of their favorite movie stars, politicians and athletes.

Each Madame Tussauds wax figure takes a team of 20 skilled artists three to four months to create, at a cost of approximately $350,000 each. The wax figures are then placed in a themed environment that relates to the subject’s lifestyle or career, which includes thematic lighting of each setting. Lighting designer Mark Frank from Emphasis Lighting has been responsible for a number of the lighting installations inside Madame Tussauds for the past several years. While working on his design for the San Francisco location, Mark relied on Rosco to provide a variety of lighting solutions that he needed to add color, texture and movement into the lighting that surrounded the museum's intricately detailed wax figures.

Madame Tussauds San Francisco has a number of wax figures depicting individuals that had an impact on the local Bay-Area community, including Harvey Milk, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and the brand new figure of Steve Wozniak. Also on display is the historical figure John A. Sutter standing next to a replica of Sutter’s Mill, which is where gold was first discovered in 1848 to mark the beginning of California’s famous gold rush. In order to create a watery surrounding for the mill, Mark installed an X24 Effects Projector and bathed the wall behind Mr. Sutter in its shimmering effect.

The personalities you find in the Haight-Ashbury area of the museum celebrate the rock & roll of the 1960’s and include wax figures of Jimi Hendrix, Jerry Garcia and Janis Joplin. At play in this area are foliage gobos with cyan-colored Permacolor dichroic glass filters, as well as ColorWave Effects Glass gobos to give the area that “far out” feel of the late 60’s.

Mark also installed several Rosco Miro Cube 4C LED fixtures in this area to bathe the wall in brilliant reds, pinks, purples and blues. He used the fixture’s RGBW color-mixing technology in several areas around the museum to create vivid hues in the background. Miro Cube 4C’s are installed in the “A-List Zone,” for example, to add vibrant color onto the city skyline that surrounds the figures of George Clooney, Peter Dinklage and Neil Patrick Harris.


In order to celebrate the Diwali holiday with its local Indian community, Madame Tussauds featured wax figures depicting five of Bollywood’s biggest stars.

Behind the wax figures is a series of exotic graphics. The staff at Madame Tussauds set their Miro Cube 4C’s into Color Wash Mode and let them automatically scroll through their full-range of colors. This allowed them to easily make the graphics in the background, which were already vibrant to begin with, pop even more.

No matter if your subjects are real-life A-list celebrities, or lifelike wax replicas – Rosco has the lighting tools designers need to bring their designs to life. To see more of Mark Frank's work, visit Be sure to visit our website to learn more about all of Rosco's solutions for themed environments.

Joel Svendsen October 13, 2016 Questions?

About Joel Svendsen

Marketing Director: Joel's Rosco career began in Rosco's Hollywood office in 1999 – first in sales covering the Western US and the Los Angeles Film & Television market, and then as Product Manager for Rosco's Film & Television Products. Joel's knowledge about Rosco's products and how they're used in each of our different marketplaces makes him well suited for bringing the stories in Spectrum to life.