Jack the Ripper Museum maintains security after protests - Museums Association

Jack the Ripper Museum maintains security after protests

Council investigating whether “unauthorised works” have been carried out at the site
Nicola Sullivan
More than 100 protesters turned up for the opening of the Jack the Ripper Museum in London.

The museum, based in Cable Street, opened last Wednesday – a day later than planned – and still has a security presence at the door.

Staff told Museums Journal that although the disruption had now died down there were about 120 protesters outside ahead of the opening. 

Liz McKenzie, a research fellow in the department of sociology at the London School of Economics, was one of those protesting against the museum, which was granted planning permission by Tower Hamlets Council in 2014, on the understanding that it would tell the story of the women of East London.  

In an article for the Times Higher Education supplement, McKenzie wrote: “The planning application for the Ripper museum, submitted in 2014, said that it would be the first in Britain to celebrate women’s achievements. The local people – were supportive –they thought that perhaps the museum would tell the history and stories of the local Match Girls Union; the suffragettes; the Bengali women who fought racism in 1970s Brick Lane.

“Instead, what is to be opened on 12 Cable Street is a museum that will sell T-shirts and coffee mugs featuring a black silhouette of the Ripper stood in a pool of blood, reducing the women of the East End to a red smudge.”  

The museum, which charges £12 admission, features a recreation of Jack the Ripper’s living room, a mortuary containing photographs of the victims’ dead bodies and a room dubbed the "dross house" to illustrate the impoverished existence of the women who were murdered.

Models are also used to depict a policeman discovering the mutilated body of Catherine Eddowes, who was Jack the Ripper’s sixth victim, and there is a recreation of the police control room set up to investigate the murders.
The museum was founded by Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe, the former head of diversity at Google, who has defended his decision that the museum should explore the Ripper murders. 

However, Tower Hamlets Council said in a statement that it will be investigating whether “unauthorised works” have been carried out at the premises.

A statement from the council said: "Planning permission was granted in October 2014 for the change of use of the premises to space for a museum.

"The council was advised at that time that the premises were intended to be used as a Women's Museum and supporting information was submitted with the application to suggest that the vision of the museum was to tell the story of women of the East End of London.

"Ultimately, however, the council has no control in planning terms of the nature of the museum.

“The council has subsequently granted consents for extensions to the premises and the refurbishment of the front of the building. The council is aware of the Jack the Ripper imagery and is investigating the extent to which unauthorised works may have been carried out at the premises."

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