The opening of a museum dedicated to Jack the Ripper in Cable Street, London has recently been the subject for eyebrow-raising. Although many may consider this strange, it’s the original premise of the exhibition what really bothered people: it had been announced that a new museum dedicated to women’s history would open in East London. It’s not hard to see why it was criticized by Londoners and many others, including me, when we found out about its real theme.
My opinion on museums will never be altered: if it’s educational, and adds to the knowledge of visitors, then I’m all for it. The problem begins when something is sold as something it’s not, which is the case of the Jack the Ripper museum. Why is the first museum in the East End supposedly dedicated to women’s history entirely about a man’s actions? This only proves the fact that sexism is still well-and-alive in today’s society, which leads us to my second argument.
Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe, the creator of the museum, argues that the exhibition explores the perspective of the victims, only to later discuss their responsibility on their own murders. Easy analogies can be made with what happens nowadays with rape claims from women: they aren’t taken seriously based on the woman-in-question’s behavior or clothes, for example. Palmer does the same with Jack the Ripper’s victims when he explores the possibility that prostitution was the deep cause of their death. Aside from the fact that it’s never anyone’s fault when they’re attacked, I’d like to point out how women those days were forced into prostitution in order to survive and how an action for survival should never lead to something much worse like death.
Leaving moral thoughts apart, I want to say I find the idea of a Jack the Ripper museum to be very interesting as, if done right, visitors would be able to enter the murderer’s mind and learn about all kinds of related aspects.
In conclusion, there’s a great appeal to the existence of a Jack the Ripper museum, but it should definitely not be sold as a museum dedicated to women’s history and, much less, try to find their fault in the situation. This is an idea what many don’t seem to understand yet.
Everybody knows about the Whitechapel murders and most importantly, about the murderer. It might sound like something sick for some people, but to others it’s just fascinating. This is why the museum should not be closed, although it has to be somewhere appropriate so people won´t complain.
For criminology lovers, this is the chance to see first-hand information, documents and objects which helped in the investigation. It´s the most truthful source they´ll ever be able to acquire knowledge from. As a person who is interested in criminology, I would visit it myself.
Also, for people interested in history, it´s a unique way to experience the Victorian era, from a whole new and different point of view: the mind of the assassin. We might not learn about the sociocultural differences between classes, but historical criminology is also history, and in my opinion, it´s one of the most interesting fields, seeing how detectives worked back in the times of Queen Victoria, and the differences between investigations nowadays. Today, for example, it would be unthinkable to send a bloodstained knife to the police, because it would be like giving your name and address.
And finally, I think the museum is a good option because it gives you perspective. It´s really easy to judge how crazy Jack the Ripper had to be to commit all those murders, but no one actually knows how mentally sick he was. He could have done it all out of madness, or even vengeance, or maybe he wasn´t sick at all and was a cold blood killer. No one will ever know his motives, but we know he killed innocent women and that´s enough to give him his blood chilling nickname, the Ripper.
So, in conclusion, Jack The Ripper museum should be built somewhere appropriate so people can visit without anyone being annoyed at it, and so everyone can gather knowledge, learn about history or try to guess Jack the Ripper´s darkest motives to do what he did.
María M. A.