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The Story Behind tells the extraordinary history of the ordinary. Everyday objects are more closely examined, from their ancient beginnings through the present—all within 5-10 minutes.

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Dec 8, 2016

Have you ever seen a human-like robot, doll or animatronic that was so lifelike it gave you the creeps? Maybe you feel uncomfortable seeing a clown or zombie but don’t know why. The uneasiness you may feel is known as the Uncanny Valley Phenomenon, which is noticeable when something is so close to being human, but lacks a certain something that’s hard to describe. If you saw the robot from the 1986 movie, “Short Circuit,” your brain would process it as just a regular robot and it wouldn’t set off any warning bells in your mind. But the more scientists try to add human features to a robot, the more negatively we respond to it.

This uncanny valley is why some people say they feel uncomfortable in wax museums. The characters are so incredibly lifelike, yet there’s something just off enough about them, our brains process them as being something to fear. Yet, wax museums have been popular tourist attractions for years. And it was one woman who became so skilled at her wax sculptures, her museums have attracted guests for more than 250 years.

I’m your host, Emily Prokop, and this is The Story Behind Madame Tussaud.

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Sources:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/11/health/uncanny-valley-robots/

http://www.encyclopedia.com/people/literature-and-arts/european-art-1600-present-biographies/marie-tussaud

http://mentalfloss.com/article/25496/10-things-you-might-not-know-about-madame-tussauds-wax-museum

https://www.madametussauds.com/hollywood/en/about/about-us/

http://www.historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/death-madame-tussaud

https://ridiculouslyinteresting.com/2012/11/27/burnt-and-melted-wax-figures-after-the-1925-fire-at-madame-tussauds-in-london/