In an emailed statement on Thursday, Madame Tussauds New York said, regarding the Beyoncé figure: “Our talented team of sculptors take every effort to ensure we accurately colour match all of our wax figures to the celebrity being depicted.”
“Lighting within the attraction combined with flash photography may distort and misrepresent the colour of our wax figures, which is something our sculptors are unable to account for at the production stage,” the statement said.
It was unclear whether the criticism online led to the statue’s brief removal from the display floor. On Thursday, a staff member at the building did not offer a reason for its absence, saying only that the statue was “off the floor until further notice.” A museum representative declined to answer questions about why the figure was no longer displayed.
In an emailed statement on Friday, Madame Tussauds New York said: “We love, respect and enjoy a working relationship with Beyoncé. We have adjusted the styling and lighting of her figure and she is on display” at the New York location. The museum did not provide further details.
The figures at Madame Tussauds are typically created by a team of studio artists and usually take three or four months to finish. Statues sometimes go “on tour” to different locations, and at least one other Beyoncé figure has been created for the museum.
Sculpting celebrity likenesses — and meeting the expectations of their fans — is tough work, especially in the age of social media.
A statue of Lucille Ball, for example, in her hometown, Celoron, N.Y., that was unveiled in 2009 was dubbed “Scary Lucy” after criticism of the work erupted on social media in 2015. A year after that, it was replaced with a more lifelike version.
The Beyoncé wax-statue kerfuffle is far from the first time that representations or images of Beyoncé have come under fire for apparent whitewashing.