France’s Musée Grévin found itself in the midst of social media turmoil when the wax figure of Dwayne Johnson, prominently displayed at the museum, faced backlash for its lighter skin tone. Johnson himself took to social media, expressing his surprise and amusement at the situation.
In a quick response to both Johnson’s comments and the public outcry, Musée Grévin took immediate action. Within just 24 hours, skilled artists meticulously adjusted the wax figure, giving it a darker and more accurate skin tone, all the while retaining Johnson’s distinctive suburban-dad outfit.
Yves Delhommeau, managing director of Musée Grévin, said in a video on Instagram that they got a “big surprise” when the figure’s “skin tone seemed too pale” when put under lights. “We suddenly realized we might have got it wrong,” he said in the clip.
View this post on Instagram
Veronique Berecz, the museum’s experienced head of PR, explained the challenge faced during the figure’s creation. “Pictures can be tricky due to lighting, making nuances in skin tones hard to capture accurately,” she revealed. Berecz clarified that the initial mistake wasn’t intentional, emphasizing the museum’s dedication to authenticity.
The creation of Johnson’s wax figure presented unique challenges from the beginning. Special casting was conducted to find a model with similar body measurements, eventually locating a match in a bodybuilding club. Berecz highlighted the complexities involved in replicating Johnson’s physique, given his towering height of 6’5” and muscular build.
Addressing accusations of “white washing,” Berecz firmly stated that it was an honest mistake based on photos, not intentional whitewashing. She stressed that the museum’s decision to rectify the error was spurred by the public’s reactions across various platforms.
The controversy arose a week after Johnson’s wax figure made its debut at the Grévin Museum, following his victory in the inaugural Grévin Awards, an honor voted on by fans to immortalize their favorite pop culture icons in wax. The initial light-skinned rendition drew widespread criticism, with fans comparing the figure to other famous personalities, including David Beckham.
Johnson, known for his good humor, responded to the situation on Instagram, expressing his intention for the museum to update the figure, starting with his skin color. Despite the mix-up, he took the incident in stride, even humorously mentioning he might visit the museum for a drink on his next trip to Paris.
This incident serves as a reminder of the challenges museums face when translating real-world complexities into wax art, urging greater precision in the portrayal of diverse celebrities for a more inclusive representation in the future.