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Plymouth National Wax Museum

Plymouth Wax Museum
Plymouth, Mass

Since we posted it. this photo page has become an historic document in itself. The Plymouth National Wax Museum is not more. It's dozens of costumed Pilgrim figures are gone and its life-sized diorama removed. All we can offer you are the photos taken here in the late 19903. (Continued below)



Plymouth National Wax Museum
15 Carver Street
Plymouth, Mass. 02360
Now closed and gone 

Waxing Nostalgic with the Pilgrims
(Editor's note: This is the brief text that appeared with our original Web page. The museum itself is now closed. To see trained role players in action visit the nearby Plimoth Plantation, created in the 1950s and still active today in Plymouth, MA.)
Despite a childhood of Cape Cod summers, I never made it to Plymouth until I turned 50. Before taking in the scholarly reconstruction of Plimouth Plantation, we wanted to see the real tourist stuff – the rock and the old wax museum. It doesn’t cost a dime, except parking, to view the famous stepping stone. No, the Pilgrims did not land on this rock. Yes, it is a hoax, or a myth, or a symbol.

Once it represented the sacred spot on which the first whites arrived in a primitive land. Today we know better. Hundreds of ships, possibly thousands of Europeans had arrived first, fishing the fertile waters and trading with a very advanced tribal society that had inhabited the region for tens of thousands of years.

Yet the stone still has power, even on a drizzling s[ring day. The magnificently reconstructed Mayflower II floats nearby. Between them, what looks like a 1620s house, is actually a souvenir outpost for all your Pilgrim needs.

We stopped to pay homage to the mighty Massasoit, who was looking very buff, before hitting the museum. The brochure says this is "America's only wax museum dedicated entirely to the story of the Pilgrims." We’re going to bet that is true.

While some historians dis the old fashioned display of wax figures, this is my kind of show. My brain needs help visualizing life in the 1620s, even if the details are not scholastically perfect. The Plymouth National Wax Museum, inside what looks like a huge suburban house, is a haunted-house style self-guided tour. Dark halls reveal a couple dozen tableau featuring hundreds of wax-headed figures aboard the Mayflower and in eatly Plymouth colony.

Plymouth was one of the earliest museums using Dofrman figures. The presentation feels like it hasn't changed for fifty years, but we liked it all the same. Kids love it. The only animated figure we saw was a drunken figure that snores while his stomach goes up and down. Figures are posed dramatically as if in a 19th century history painting.

Things went so badly at Plymouth that most of the original founders died of starvation and disease in the first year. In order to hide their dwindling numbers from Native Americans, the Mayflower settlers buried their dead at night. It was, of course, the intervention of Indians that allowed any settlers to survive. And, of course, there was that visit by New Hampshire's first settler David Thomson in 1623.

In one scene, rain pours in an endlessly perfect sheet as a boat roacks. The wax pilgrims land on a plaster duplicate of the famous rock just a few yards away at the Plymouth waterfront. Inevitably the tour deposits us in the gift shop, heavily stocked with Native American and Pilgrim kitsch A kid could go crazy here trying to spend his $5. Rubber snake, a rubber knife or a plastic Plymouth Rock bank? Welcome to America.

Text and photos by J. Dennis Robinson
SEE ALSO; Visiting Plimoth Plantation

Plymouth MA sign

Mayflower II Pilgrim Hut? Plymouth Rock Massasoit Statue

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