Hundreds of wax figures kept in home of former Victoria museum manager
VICTORIA -- After Victoria's Royal London Wax Museum closed one decade ago, more than 200 wax figures moved into Ken Lane's basement.
Lane worked as the museum's general manager for more than 30 years and was saddened when it had to shut down in 2010, as the building required seismic upgrades.
"At Halloween, we like to startle people," said Lane. "We say, 'We have a bunch of bodiless heads in our basement, do you want to see them?'"
The wax figures are all disassembled and stored in three different locations. Lane's basement is temperature controlled, so he gets the heads, hands, and all other parts that are made of wax. Most of the figures are wrapped in bubble wrap, and kept in boxes — but, one queen has a prominent spot at his dining room table.
The first figure the museum ever got is Queen Victoria. Now, she stays assembled in Lane's living room. But, last weekend, she had five other figures join her for tea.
"It took three days," said Lane, when asked how long it took him to put the figures together.
"You have to pull them out and get them set up and get the clothes clean and the hair prim," he said. "Occasionally, there is a fractured or broken finger you have to fix."
The figures cost more than $20,000 each and are custom orders from England. Each one has medical grade glass eyes and real human hair.
"The best part about them is how real they are," said Lane. "You learn about the history and the lives of these people and you can relate that to the visitors that come through."
"The storytelling is what the visitors are looking for," he said.
For a decade, Lane has been looking for a new museum space to tell the figures' stories. He says re-opening the museum in B.C. is proving difficult because of government rules, regulations and taxes. He is now considering other location options, including Winnipeg and Nova Scotia.