A museum originally billed as a celebration of east London women has been branded a “sick joke” after it was unveiled to be devoted to the crimes of Jack the Ripper.
The team behind the project had promised to transform a disused Victorian building into the 'Museum of Women's History' featuring images of suffragettes and other campaigners.
“It’s like some sort of sick joke,” said a resident who lives near the Cable Street site.
“You propose a museum celebrating the achievements of women and then it turns out to be a museum celebrating London’s most notorious murderer of women.”
The Ripper was the title given to the man behind a series of barbarous and unsolved murders of sex workers in London’s East End between 1888 and 1891.
He has never been definitively identified, and killed 11 women before he disappeared.
The original museum scheme was given the go ahead last year after plans were submitted on behalf of former Google Diversity Chief Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe.
As part of the application, architects wrote: “Our vision is to create a world class museum that celebrates the historic, current and future contribution of the women of the East End.
“The museum will recognise and celebrate the women of the East End - the famous, infamous and anonymous - who have shaped history.”
But in a press release ahead of the museum’s planned opening next Tuesday, Mr Palmer-Edgecumbe said: “The museum will showcase never-before-seen Jack the Ripper pieces which will provide a glimpse into the sinister world of the mysterious murderer, the panic his reign of terror sparked in Victorian London and a look those who tried to track him down.”
According to the Evening Standard newspaper, Mr Palmer-Edgecumbe admitted the plan to do a museum about social history of women had been scrapped to develop a project with “a more interesting angle” from the perspective of the victims of Jack the Ripper.
“It is absolutely not celebrating the crime of Jack the Ripper but looking at why and how the women got in that situation in the first place,” he said.