The National Presidential Wax Museum in Keystone gives visitors the chance to learn more about U.S. history with an interesting and unique spin on it.
“Well, I think that just getting the sense of being able to be in the presence of the most iconic names and the most important names in U.S. history is an experience that you don’t really get a whole lot of places,” Clay King, general manager of The National Presidential Wax Museum, says. “We have over 100 wax figures. Every U.S. President at least once. We’ve got George W. Bush twice. I think it’s just people want the experience of being able to feel like they’re in the presence of those actual people, and it’s a whole new way of kind of like experiencing history.”
The life-like figures displayed can take three to four months to produce and King explains the process of creating a wax figure.
“The wax figures that we’ve made, the last two, President Biden and President Trump, were actually made by a team of artists in the U.K., out of London. About seven to 10 people were involved in the process of each of these wax figures. So, the process is a main sculptor, the head sculptor sculpts the body, the head and hands of the person to be portrayed out of clay, actually just freehand.
“It’s a pretty amazing process and then once they have that clay head and hands made, they actually cover it all with kind of like an alginate, which is like a rubbery substance that then creates a mold and they peel that back apart. They put it back together and fill it with wax and then that creates a head. That head then goes to be painted, teeth put in, eyeballs put in and then hair is put in, one strand at a time. It’s actually human hair, and it can take up to a month of one person doing nothing but inserting hair.”
There’s a number of experiences to have and things to learn about the context and history of the scenes, especially through self-guided audio tours, while visiting the wax museum.
“Yeah, probably about 10 to 12 life masks and death masks which are plaster castings that were actually taken from the actual faces of people in U.S. history and world history,” King says. “We have people that come through and they’re just for them, the experience is really just being able to marvel at the artistry and the time and the passion that goes into creating each of them.”