Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe, a diversity adviser, had his proposal for a women’s museum to be built on Cable Street in Whitechapel approved by Tower Hamlets council last October.
Palmer-Edgecumbe, a former head of diversity and inclusion for Google, worked with architects at Waugh Thistleton to create the proposal.
A spokesperson at Waugh Thistleton confirmed to BuzzFeed News that they worked with Palmer-Edgecumbe, but said they did not work with him to change the museum’s theme.
Palmer-Edgecumbe said the victims of Jack the Ripper would be a more “interesting” angle than the social history of women. He told Evening Standard:
We did plan to do a museum about social history of women but as the project developed we decided a more interesting angle was 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.
The museum also promised to share the stories of women workers in factories and sweatshops.
On its website, Palmer-Edgecumbe stressed that the new museum would not glorify the mass murderer.
“The Jack the Ripper Museum in no way glorifies or glamorises Jack the Ripper,” the statement read. “Quite the opposite, it presents the women of the East End’s story for the first time.”
Jeanne Sutton, a co-founder of Ireland’s first digital women’s museum, said she was disappointed in the focus on female victims rather than their achievements.
Sutton said that although Jack the Ripper story is an essential chapter in London’s crime and sex worker history, “there’s a lot more to women’s history than dead bodies”.
She told BuzzFeed News: “It’s rather disappointing that Mr Palmer-Edgecumbe chose to focus on the most salacious aspect of East End history, using female victims in a bid to attract visitors.”