Stand back Madame Tussauds, The Philadelphia Wax Museum plans to give you some friendly competition. This new museum, set to open in late 2011, plans on showcasing Philly’s abundance of exciting and wonderful history and talent. Everyone from Benjamin Franklin and Edgar Allan Poe to Bill Cosby, Will Smith and Tina Fey. Did you know that Larry Fine of the Three Stooges was born and raised in Philadelphia? I didn’t.
Robert Avery, the visionary behind The Philadelphia Wax Museum, started his research in the late 1990’s by stopping at Philadelphia’s many historical markers and taking notes. He has lofty goals in mind for this non-profit adventure. Aside from wanting it to be the largest wax museum (he proudly thinks big), he wants it to stand as a pillar of inspiration to the youth of Philadelphia, as well as a constant reminder that your dreams, no matter your upbringing, past history, or socioeconomic status, really can come true.
During our interview I asked him to tell me his mission for this museum. His response: “Our goal is to inspire the youth of Philadelphia to dare to dream, dare to do something great with their life. You don’t have to be a basketball player or rapper; you can go into The Philadelphia Wax Museum and see all the various Philadelphians who are doing great things. Hopefully they will leave inspired, saying, ‘What am I going to do to be waxed?’ It’s going to be a Philadelphia hall of fame so to speak.”
Commenting on his own past, Mr. Avery relates to me his own upbringing in the Philly housing projects and his experience of seeing the world as a member of the United States Air Force. A spiritual man, he knows that he was blessed to leave his childhood neighborhood. He says, “I had friends who did not make it out of the projects, who never got to see outside of Philadelphia, and my goal is to have a lot of outreach programs for kids. Again, dare to dream, do something great with your life.” Helping Philly’s less fortunate and underprivileged is the museum’s top goal.
Unfortunately, these goals do not come cheap. As the grand opening comes closer there will be major fundraisers, and donations are always gladly accepted. The first hurdle to meet is the $16,000 mark. This is the approximate cost of one wax figure. The first figure to be molded will most likely be William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, and is set to be unveiled at City Hall prior to the opening. In the meantime, check out The Philadelphia Wax Museum on Facebook and get an idea of what is surely to become Philadelphia’s next big attraction.