East End Women’s Museum plans for permanent space fall through - Museums Association

East End Women’s Museum plans for permanent space fall through

Trustees ‘beyond disappointed’ as delays force museum to cancel capital project
Feminism Women's history
The museum celebrates the lives of East End women such as the artist Madge Gill (1882-1961)
The museum celebrates the lives of East End women such as the artist Madge Gill (1882-1961) London Borough of Newham, licensed under CC BY

The East End Women’s Museum has been forced to put its plans for a permanent physical space on hold due to delays caused by red tape.

The institution had been due to open this year as the only women’s museum in England, and had secured a space in Barking town centre offered to it by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.

The project was at an advanced design stage having successfully completed stage 3 of the Royal Institute of British Architects Plan of Work. It had aimed to be the first in the world to use an all-female construction team.   

The project had hit its fundraising targets via a mix of grants from trusts and foundations, crowdfunding campaigns and individual donations.

However, in an announcement this week, trustees confirmed that, due to difficulties beyond their control in finalising the lease, the museum had been unable to accept some of the grants awarded to it, making the project unviable.

The statement said: “Despite exploring multiple avenues, it was not possible to agree a way of working that was acceptable to all stakeholders.”


A spokesperson for the museum added: “We are beyond disappointed that we won’t be moving into the building in Barking.

“The board, our volunteers, supporters, and the project team have worked so hard to make this a reality. We are sad and frustrated we have got to this point.  

“However, we know that we will find the space that is right for the museum in the future. The support we have received and the work that has been completed to date means we know that more than ever, a museum like ours is needed to tell the stories of the great women in history.  

“Whilst this is the announcement we never wanted to make, we do want to take the opportunity to say thank you to the local community and our volunteers for their ongoing support and sharing their stories, and to the funders that believed in us. We look forward to working with you and continuing to make history together.”

The East End Women’s Museum was set up in 2015 following a public backlash against the Jack the Ripper Museum, which had been granted planning permission to open as a museum of women’s history before changing its focus to the notorious Whitechapel murders.

Since the East End Women's Museum was established, it has operated as a pop-up, working with community and cultural partners to conduct research, reach new audiences, and put on exhibitions and events.

The museum said this work would continue. “It is vital that the museum exists in the world, and the museum and its board of trustees are committed to continuing to forge trusted community partnerships across East London to deliver new exhibitions, events, schools and community programmes,” said the statement.

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