A wax figure of Queen Victoria sits at the head of Ken Lane's dining table (Ethan Morneau / Victoria Buzz)

While this Saanich man’s unique collection of past and present prominent figures may be turning heads, he’s ready to give it up for good.

For over a decade, a bulk of the collection that once filled Victoria’s Royal London Wax Museum on Belleville Street has been packed into boxes and stored in Ken Lane’s basement.

That’s around 350 disembodied wax heads, according to Lane, who served as the museum’s long-time executive director before it shut down in September 2010.

“I was there for 30 years. It had a 50-year record, and I was there for 30,” Lane told Victoria Buzz in an interview.

And while the figures may hold sentimental value, he says it’s time to purge in hopes they’ll find a new permanent home—where they’ll be re-established to their original glory for all to see.

But likely not in Victoria, according to Lane.

“Victoria is kind of drooping on the tourism vine. There are a lot of challenges here, and they’re not easily fixable,” he said.

Thinking back, Lane says Royal London admission soared past 400,000 in some years. “It was the busiest private sector attraction in downtown Victoria,” he recalled.

“The public was so warm, welcoming and engaging as they went through because of what they learned as we were doing our storytelling.”

Canadian, American and international tourists alike regularly walked the 12,000 sq. ft museum halls admiring the wax figure lineup, which included Canadian prime ministers.

“And we tried to keep up with the Royal Family,” said Lane. “We’ve got three or four images of Queen Elizabeth II, starting when she was a princess and going from there.”

The collection also includes Scottish poet Robert Burns (Ethan Morneau / Victoria Buzz)

Still, operating a wax museum with evolving inventory comes with hefty price tags and often lengthy wait times for new products. 

Before Royal London closed, Lane ordered a Kate Middleton wax figure, costing $30,000. Another figure of a former Japanese emperor took 14 months to make.

“The bodies themselves are either fibreglass or paper mache,” explained Lane, noting that beeswax makes their skin appear so life-like.

“The older bodies are the paper mache ones, and they weigh a ton. The fibreglass bodies are adjustable, so you can move the arms and legs or sit them down and stand them up.”

Lane says he’s made inquiries in various communities to bring the wax collection back to life. “And we are continuing to work with some of them,” he said.

“But the energy is not all that high at the moment because the (COVID-19) pandemic is creating so many uncertainties,” added Lane.

“It’s a good five, six million dollar project to re-establish the museum.”

He’s suggesting the next generation of wax museums offer a more interactive experience, with ride technology to draw visitors back. 

Subscribe to the Victoria Buzz newsletter to receive the latest news, events and more directly to your inbox. Every day.