Located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the Musée Grévin Montreal is a waxwork museum housing more than 120 characters. It is located inside the Montreal Eaton Centre, part of the city’s RÉSO Underground City complex.
The Musée Grévin Montreal opened on April 17, 2013, a branch of the French wax museum Musée Grévin.
One of the oldest wax museums in Europe, the original Musée Grévin was opened in 1882 by journalist and Le Gaulois newspaper founder Arthur Meyer. As photography was not yet in widespread use by most publications, Meyer conceived of the museum as a way to show the public a visual representation of the celebrities and news figures mentioned in his paper. He enlisted the help of caricaturist and costume designer Alfred Grévin in bringing the project to fruition. Grévin’s increasing involvement in the project, including his appointment as the museum’s artistic director, led to the facility being named in his honor. With financial backing from the Champs-Elysées theater and the Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel, the museum became a wild success within its first years of operation.
Owned today by parent company Compagnie des Alpes, a ski resort and theme park operator, the Montreal location was the museum’s first international branch and reflects a long history of business partnership between Quebec and France. In this spirit, many Franco-Québécois designers were enlisted in designing the museum complex and layout, including Dick Walsh and Julien Bertevas of CDA Production, Patrice Peyrieras, De Pinxi, Moment Factory, Dushow, and Europea. It is located on the fifth floor of downtown Montreal’s Eaton Centre, occupying the former site of the Famous Players Centre Eaton 6 cinema complex.
The museum features more than 120 wax statues of notable personalities arranged in eight display rooms, with a focus on figures pertaining to Canadian and Franco-Québécois history.
Paris-Quebec: The museum’s first room focuses on French-Canadian luminaries who found success on both sides of the Atlantic. Many celebrity likenesses from the world of arts and culture are featured, including figures of legendary singer-songwriter Charles Aznavour, author and actress Ginette Reno, and pop star Marie-Mai.
New France: This exhibit chronicles the colonial history of the Quebec area in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, from its founding as a French missionary colony through its British rule. A reconstruction of explorer Jacques Cartier’s ship serves as a backdrop to house a number of important historical figures.
The Arena: The museum’s athletic room pays special homage to Canadian national pastime hockey, with a full rink display featuring a “dream team” of figures such as Montreal superstar Mario Lemieux and current MVP Sidney Crosby. Other athlete figures on display include Tiger Woods, Gilles Villeneuve, and Georges Saint-Pierre.
Grévin Hotel: This hotel reconstruction room features statues of modern dignitaries from the political, business, and entertainment spheres. Guests can walk through the hotel’s private “rooms” to see celebrities such as Steve Jobs, John Lennon, and Yoko Ono.
Hall of Wonder: This interactive room features large digital displays showcasing natural scenes of the four seasons. Visitors can become a part of the scene themselves, as weather and wildlife depicted on the displays is responsive to movement.
Belmont Park: The first room on the second floor is modeled after Montreal’s famed Belmont Park, a now-defunct classic amusement park. Figures such as Charlie Chaplin and Justin Bieber are posed in playful scenes on fairground stages and park rides, and an interactive exhibit takes visitors on a video game quest with Deus Ex character Adam Jensen.
Wings: This exhibit features two rooms, starting with the interactive Discovery Workshop, which highlights the creation process for Grévin’s wax figures. A digital multimedia station allows visitors to create virtual wax figures of themselves via facial recognition scan. Next, the Runway continues the behind-the-scenes theme with a fashion show prep exhibit starring model figures such as Naomi Campbell and Marie Saint Pierre.
The Ballroom: The museum’s final room features some of its biggest stars, including Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Brad Pitt, and Angelina Jolie, all attending a mock ball. On the room’s stage, an all-star band “performs,” comprising musical legends such as Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, and Céline Dion.
Ongoing Programs and Education
In addition to school group and organization guided tours, the museum hosts a number of workshops for participants of all ages. Several workshop themes highlight the process of creating wax figures, while wax handling workshops allow participants to create a take-home souvenir while broadening their minds to the possibilities of wax as an art creation material. Workshops hosted by instructors from the nonprofit dance organization Prima Danse encourage participants to think about the movement, structure, and language of the body.