The controversial Jack the Ripper Museum in East London is up for sale, with the building and contents on offer. The museum was controversial as the planning permission to turn the building into a museum was for a “Museum of Women’s History”.

The application featured illustrations of suffragettes and equal pay campaigners, and made reference to the closure of Whitechapel’s Women’s Library in 2013, saying that this museum would be “the only dedicated resource in the East End to women’s history”.

The museum was to “recognise and celebrate the women of the East End who have shaped history, telling the story of how they have been instrumental in changing society. It will analyse the social, political and domestic experience from the Victorian period to the present day.”

However, it was only after the new frontage was uncovered that people realised it was now a Jack the Ripper museum, and about as far from the original plans as was possible to get.

Protests followed, but a museum of Jack the Ripper is still a museum, so baring some cosmetic changes that had to be removed, there wasn’t much that the council could do to change the displays inside.

Being as controversial as it was, few listings publications would promote it, and few tourists seeemed to wander down from the heart of Whitechapel and their many walking tour guides to this end of Shadwell for the museum.

Normally, when a museum closes down, it’s a very sad day. However, I doubt there will be many people mourning the passing of this grotesque attempt to cash in on the deaths of eleven women murdered between April 1888 and February 1891.

Although the museum is planning to reopen in May, the six-storey building is being sold with vacant possession andwill consider selling the museum artefacts as well. They note that the building might have the potential for redevelopment, although if anyone is planning another museum, the council, having been stung once is likely to be very careful about what the new owner’s plans are.

Following the protests, a new project was set up to create an actual East End Women’s Museum, which aims to open later this year.

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7 comments
  1. Sunjay says:

    Jack The Ripper tales are rife and continue to be a topic of speculation by many renowned scholars. Why was this museum controversial?

    • Rob B says:

      The article explains why. It was meant to be a museum about women’s rights. Not women’s murderous deaths.

  2. Heather Parry says:

    Frankly good riddance to what was always an abhorrent idea.

  3. les says:

    11 women ? That’s a number I am unfamiliar with. The “canonical ” 5 are ones normally listed though 4 more might be, at a stretch ( ok he did not suffer that assuming that it was a male perpetrator).While in Albany ( Western Australia) I recall a confession displayed in the local Jail ( now a museum) where a English immigrant was held before being tried for numerous horrendous murders where he claimed to have committed the slaughter in Whitechapel. Hanged in Melbourne after the judge ordered the longer version of his confession destroyed due to its allegations about notable citizens. He had gifted it to his lawyer for publication to pay for his defence. Perhaps his confession was an attempt to put off the unavertable fate that he foresaw?

  4. Lionel Ward says:

    I wonder if it’d still be controversial if it weren’t for the planning permission bait and switch. Google reviews are pretty positive

  5. ChrisC says:

    Planning permission was likely based on having a museum on the premises and not a specific type of museum.

    If the council had felt they were misleed in the application they could have taken enforcement action. But they didn’t because the bulding was used as a museum.

    If the bulding has a specific planning class allocated to it then as long as a future use is within that useage class then no further applications would be needed for change of use.

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