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Quirky Texas: Life Size Wax Sculpture Replica of the Last Supper

Quirky Surprise in Fort Worth

When I tell people that Fort Worth is home to a life size wax sculpture replica of Leonardo Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” the response is usually, “Huh?” followed by a puzzled laugh.

After all, that’s hardly what we expect from a city that bills itself as “Where the West begins,” right?

In fact, when out of town guests visit, my husband and I generally take them to see the historic stockyards. Sure, some locals turn their nose up at this, just as Seattlites often scoff at the idea of visiting the Space Needle, but I love visiting the Fort Worth Stockyards. Not only is it chock full of history, but seriously: how many towns have an official herd of longhorn cattle?

So, yes, I’ll confess: When I first heard about this quirky wax replica of Leonardo Da Vinci’s classic painting, I thought it was a joke. For one thing, who in their right mind wants to put wax sculptures in the heat of Texas?

Like so many things I research and write about,  this “wax supper” sounds ridiculous at first, but there is much more to the story than first appears.

Check out this adapted excerpt from my book Unexpected Texas (a travel guide to offbeat and overlooked places in the Dallas – Fort Worth area.)

The Christian Arts Museum in Fort Worth, TX (photo by Tui Snider)
The Christian Arts Museum in Fort Worth, TX (photo by Tui Snider)

Wax Sculptures in Texas = Serious Climate Control

 

Fort Worth’s life size wax sculpture replica of Da Vinci’s Last Supper is housed on a stage in a small auditorium where you can take a seat and listen to a short presentation about the history of this unique replica. There have been days when I was certain that I would melt from the heat here in north Texas, so as you can imagine, the temperature and humidity are carefully regulated in this section of the Christian Arts Museum.

Here’s a photo I took while standing in the middle of the auditorium. What do you think?

Life Size Wax Replica of the Last Supper in Fort Worth, TX (photo by Tui Snider)
Life Size Wax Replica of the Last Supper in Fort Worth, TX (photo by Tui Snider)

Life Size Wax Supper in Fort Worth

Hey, doesn’t that disciple on the far left look a bit familiar? Yes, that’s me popping in all Vanna White style. I merely wanted to provide a bit of perspective so you can see what I mean when I say these wax sculptures are life size.

Life Size Wax Replica of the Last Supper in Fort Worth, TX (photo by Tui Snider)
Life Size Wax Replica of the Last Supper in Fort Worth, TX (photo by Tui Snider)

New Angles on Da Vinci’s Last Supper

You can get pretty close to the Wax Supper sculptures, although just like any museum, you aren’t allowed to touch. From what I could tell, the figures are all quite clean. Next time I visit the Christian Arts Museum, I will ask who dusts them, and how often it’s required to keep them looking so spiffy!

By now you must be wondering how on earth Fort Worth wound up with such an interesting and unique piece of art:

Life Size Wax Replica of the Last Supper in Fort Worth, TX (photo by Tui Snider)
Life Size Wax Replica of the Last Supper in Fort Worth, TX (photo by Tui Snider)

History of the Wax Supper Replica

In 1955, an oil tycoon named Bill Fleming commissioned a version of Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper. However, instead of a painting, Fleming paid for a life-sized sculpture made from wax. The Fort Worth man had seen a “wax supper” in California and wanted to give his hometown something similar.

To complete this project, Fleming hired the mother-daughter team of Katherine and Katherine Marie Stubergh, a duo well-known for their wax sculptures. There’s a wonderful article about the Stuberghs over on a site called Waxipedia (gotta love that name!) that includes a whole bunch of great photos of the artists here: Katherine Marie Stubergh-Keller: The American Madame Tussaud

The younger Stubergh originally planned to be a dancer. Even so, as a teenager, she produced a wax sculpture of Mae West. West was so impressed with the result that she allegedly told the girl, “Kid, anybody can make a piece of mud look like me shouldn’t be no dancer.” From that point on, the younger Stubergh ditched her dancing dreams to pursue art full force.

Fort Worth’s wax supper took the Stuberghs 18 months to create. It was finished in 1956 and displayed in various locations, from churches to a shopping mall, over the next 40 years. In 1997, it was placed in storage, and for a while, all seemed lost. In 2009, however, the wax display was restored. As of this writing, the Stubergh’s wax supper is on display at the Christian Arts Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.

Life Size Wax Replica of the Last Supper in Fort Worth, TX (photo by Tui Snider)
Life Size Wax Replica of the Last Supper in Fort Worth, TX (photo by Tui Snider)

But wait, there’s more!

The Christian Arts Museum has other interesting items in its collection, including a replica of the Ark of the Covenant. (At least, I assume it’s a replica!) Seriously, though, the museum’s collection includes an impressive cross-stitch version of the Last Supper, as well as a wall featuring a wide variety of crosses – which I will feature in another post sometime.

Other displays at the Christian Arts Museum in Fort Worth, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)
Other displays at the Christian Arts Museum in Fort Worth, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)

Plan Your Trip to the Wax Supper in Fort Worth, Texas:

 

Christian Arts Museum in Fort Worth, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)
Christian Arts Museum in Fort Worth, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)

As you can see from the sign, the Christian Arts Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. It’s near Fort Worth’s Cultural Center, so the next time you’re out exploring the local arts scene, drop by this quirky museum and see the Wax Supper for yourself. When you go, remember to tell ’em Tui sent you!

For more information about the Life Size Wax Sculpture Replica of the Last Supper:
Official website: Christian Arts Museum 
Address: 3221 Hamilton Ave., Fort Worth, TX
Hours: Wed-Sat, 10am-3pm

Want to read more like this?


To read about more weird, offbeat, and overlooked places, check out my best-selling travel guide:
UNEXPECTED TEXAS: Your Guide to Offbeat & Overlooked History, Day Trips & Fun Things to do near Dallas & Fort Worth
.

For ghost hunting hot spots, check out my best-selling travel guide to haunted places:
PARANORMAL TEXAS: Your Travel Guide to Haunted Places near Dallas & Fort Worth
.

For a strange-but-true tale of Texas history, check out this bizarre piece of West Texas history:
The Lynching of the Santa Claus Bank Robber

 


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Tui Snider

Tui Snider is an author, speaker, and photographer who specializes in North Texas travel, cemetery symbols, and haunted lore. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction – but then, I moved to Texas!”

Snider’s best-selling books include Paranormal Texas , Understanding Cemetery Symbols, and 100 Things to Do in Dallas - Fort Worth Before You Die.

Snider has several more books in progress, and enjoys connecting with writers and readers all over the globe through social media, her newsletter and her website: TuiSnider.com.

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