If you want to shake hands with all 45 U.S. Presidents, visit the Madam Tussauds Washington DC location in Chinatown. Originating in London, this famous wax museum is a popular tourist attraction in major cities throughout the world, displaying pop culture icons, world leaders, historic figures and sports stars. At its Washington, DC location, the main theme of the museum is politics. You’ll get an American history lesson in 3D!
The Presidents Gallery displays all of the U.S. Presidents intermixed with other famous people at crucial moments in American history. The backdrops give historic context. There’s General Robert E. Lee surrendering to General and future President Ulysses S. Grant at the McLean House at the conclusion of the Civil War.
And British Prime Minister Winston Churchill standing next to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during World War II.
Or astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landing on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission next to the John F. Kennedy figure.
The Presidents Gallery is organized chronologically, beginning with George Washington and other Founding Fathers.
Throughout the museum, the life-sized wax figures are decorated with realistic skin tones, perfectly placed catch lights, period clothing, and contextual props. Some of the figures look so realistic that it’s downright eerie!
Short bios are posted near each figure, giving both familiar and unfamiliar facts about each person. This is especially useful for lesser known presidents, like James A. Garfield, who was tragically assassinated shortly after assuming office.
A most striking contrast can be observed in the Founding Fathers room, where the six-foot, two-inch statuesque President Thomas Jefferson is positioned near his good friend, the five-foot, four-inch frail President James Madison. Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, and Madison, father of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, were largely responsible for unifying the country under its most important founding documents; yet, they could not look more different in appearance.
Some of the modern First Ladies are presented, such as Jackie Kennedy, Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama and Melania Trump.
There are also famous Civil Rights leaders represented.
Other notable entertainment, sports and media figures complete the museum. Visitors are welcome to photograph themselves with their favorite celebrities.
If you’re an American history buff, student or home schooler, this is a fun place to start learning about the U.S. Presidents, especially for those of us who are visual learners. Shake their hands and take your photo with them. It’s a fun and educational stop when visiting the nation’s capital.