America loves an augmented attraction. It’s not enough to have a 215 feet high limestone archway surrounded by beautiful waterfalls and pine-scented woods. No, what’s needed here is a massive gift shop, a Toy Museum, a Haunted Museum, a reconstructed Native American village and a cowboy riding a dinosaur. Yep, that should do. Oh wait. Actually, we need more. Welcome to the weird world of the Waxwork Museum in Natural Bridge.
Not only does the museum start with a scene from the Garden of Eden, it includes a full sit-down set piece based on Leonardo’s Last Supper – with the entire picture reconstructed in wax. Well, actually the figures are made of vinyl these days. I’m sure it helps with the heat. And where else could you find a Chinese-Bill-Clinton surrounded by many other presidents:
At the end of the museum’s many nooks and crannies is a workshop, where Samuel Wright works: constructing and organizing the many fake heads and body parts that are used both in the museum, and made to order for others. He’s been doing this for 23 years, and is happy to show us his favourite heads – including some recently un-archived ones; I wonder if he ever found the working day as strange as it is to a visitor? Walking through his workshop, under by the empty gaze of strange hairless heads you can’t help but think you’ve got to be cut from a peculiar kind of vinyl not to be slightly uneasy about all this.
Grateful as I am to Samuel for showing us the inner workings of the figurines he helps create and send all over the place, I feel a slight sense of relief to step outside into the Virginia sunshine and away from the loose limbs and quiet expressions. Back to the Giftshop, then…
More photos in this set on Flickr.