How did Eduardo Mendoza in “No news from Gurb” say that it was raining and the Barcelona City Council was acting? For that is precisely how the 21st century has entered the Barcelona Wax Museum, historical attraction in frank decline that This Friday it reopens its doors after a very complete and repairing facelift. A radical change and, as Mendoza would say, also beastly, which comes to recover all those years of immobile figure, collection stranded in time and increasingly evident decline.
It had been fifteen years since the La Rambla museum had received a new tenant -the last one was nothing less than Juan Pablo II– so it was necessary to air the rooms, shake off the dust and undertake the change of decade and century with a determined step. Said and done, the new managers of the emblematic space, a company formed by Advanced Leisure Services and the former president of Endemol Toni Cruz, have applied themselves thoroughly to renovate and update a museum that, conceived in 1973 by the set designer, came to host more 200,000 annual visitors in its prime.
A time that is far away – the latest data spoke of some 80,000 visitors – and that the new museum aspires to revive after an investment of six million euros, more than seventy new figures, refurbishment of some of the old statues, cutting-edge technology and, above all, a good handful of top signings. There they are, for example, Leo messi Y Rosalía, the watchword of the new Barcelona iconography, bringing the present time to a museum that arrives left over with fresh blood and, above all, all new wax.
So it was cobwebs, goodbye to dolls of taste, let’s say questionable – the old room dedicated to Star Wars, for example, bordered on the criminal – and doors open to new sports, cultural, cinematographic and political references. Even gastronomy has managed to gain a foothold and the three Roca brothers share a stove with Remy, the friendly cook rat from “Ratatouille”, and the silhouettes of Carme Ruscalleda and Jordi Cruz, recent acquisitions yet to come.
Before that, at the gates of the building, a mansion from 1867 that housed the Bank of Barcelona, Eusebi Güell Y Anton Gaudi They act as old sentries saved from the purge and guard the entrance together with a reproduction of the Park Güell dragon. The new managers do not hide that their intention is to reinforce the museum’s connection with both the city of Barcelona and the people of Barcelona, so the first stop is an immersive installation that, like the flying elevator that Willy Wonka used, takes you for a walk through the heights of Barcelona, from the port to the top of Tibidabo and from Colón to the Sagrada Familia. There are no waxes or figures, but the result is quite spectacular.
“We have changed the concept. Before people could not touch the figures or approach; it was like a stage; now the public is part of the space ”, explains Ángel Díaz, the museum’s business director. A good example of the new philosophy is the gigantic King Kong accompanying Snowflake e Indiana Jones and whose huge hand is designed to hug the visitor. The latter, however, must be imagined, since the hand has not arrived in time. And, they point out from the museum, all the deadlines have been so tight – even more so with the pandemic – that some pieces will arrive in the coming days. Among them, those of Rafa Nadal O Stalin. “It is a living collection, it will expand year by year,” says Díaz.
The characters from “La casa de papel”, very conveniently installed in the old bank vault; elite athletes such as Serena Williams, Michael Jordan, Pau Gasol and Marc Márquez; or terrifying fictional characters like him Joker Y Pennywise (“It”) are, from today, some of the new claims of the museum. There is also a renewed gallery of pop stars, with Adele, Rihanna, Billie Eilish Y Rosalía sharing space with Elton John, The Beatles, Michael Jackson or a David Bowie somewhat deep; celluloid stars like Leonardo Di Caprio, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Lawrence; or artists like Dalí, Cervantes or an impressive Picasso.
Each new figure, Díaz details, can cost about 20,000 euros, some even more. “Although it may not seem like it, it is still a very traditional process,” they explain. They spend a lot of time making the clay mass, then there are specific artists for the eyes or for the hair… ». Even the old tenants of the museum, classic figures like those of Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, Marie Curie or Cervantes, among others, have spruced up for the occasion. “It had a certain charm to keep some of the old ones. We have fixed them and updated them in terms of makeup, hairdressing and tailoring, “adds Díaz.
The disturbing effigies of Franco, Hitler and Mussolini, Now opposed to Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa of Calcutta, while the already known Macià and Companys have been added two heavyweights of international politics: Obama and Merkel. Not a trace, at least for the moment, of representatives of current Spanish politics, lest the visitor be left petrified.
By cons, the weight of the new audiovisual culture it is more than evident and it becomes flesh (sorry, wax) in the form of Jack Sparrow, Harry Potter, Jon Snow, the fearsome Drogon, a majestic Chewbacca, Rey Skywalker … A true bathroom of contemporary realism that the museum wants to take into account when creating new characters and attracting new visitors. all that public in Barcelona who had turned their back on the museum and its statues.