A former Google diversity head decided he wanted to build a museum dedicated to women’s history in London’s East End, so he submitted a proposal outlining his goals last October. But after the proposal was approved and construction on the museum began, Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe promptly switched tactics, and instead decided to build a museum dedicated to the notorious serial killer Jack the Ripper, who exclusively targeted female sex workers. His excuse? Jack the Ripper is less boring than exploring women’s history and accomplishments.
“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,” Palmer-Edgecumbe told the Evening Standard, according to BuzzFeed News. “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.”
Despite Palmer-Edgecumbe’s intentions, East Enders feel duped by the bait-and-switch, and are skeptical that the museum will treat the Jack the Ripper victims with the respect they deserve. The basement, for example, will feature “original autopsy photos of the horrific murders which some viewers may find disturbing,” according to the museum’s website.
While Jack the Ripper’s victims deserve to be remembered, honoring them by glorifying the mythos of a serial killer and hanging photos of their mutilated bodies on the walls seems like an odd way to go about it. As one expert told BuzzFeed, “There’s a lot more to women’s history than dead bodies” — too bad the things women have accomplished while alive weren’t interesting enough for Palmer-Edgecumbe to put in a museum.