Two years after the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York announced that it would no longer accept donations from the Sacklers, the institution announced that it would remove the family name from the galleries within its walls. These galleries include the massive, airy room with the Temple of Dendur, which has long been known as Sackler.
On Thursday, the Met announced that the decision was made amicably with the descendants of Mortimer and Raymond Sackler, who died in 2010 and 2017, respectively.
In a statement, the family said: âOur families have always strongly supported The Met, and we believe that it is in the best interests of the museum and the important mission it serves. The earliest of these gifts was given almost 50 years ago, and now we are giving the torch to others who want to support the museum. “
Through their company, Purdue Pharma, members of the Sackler family manufactured and sold the pain reliever OxyContin, even though they knew it contained addictive properties, a pattern described in a number of reports including Patrick Radden Keefe’s acclaimed book 2021 Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty. Earlier this year, Purdue Pharma was officially wound up and the Sackler family agreed to pay billions of dollars to settle legal claims related to the opioid crisis. (As part of the settlement, the family denied any wrongdoing.)
The Sackler family’s patronage extended well beyond the Met to include institutions such as the Tate Museum Network, the Serpentine Galleries, the Louvre, the Guggenheim Museum, and others. Amid protests led by artist Nan Goldin’s PAIN group, which raised awareness in the art world of the Sacklers’ role in the US opioid crisis, many museums said they would stop giving gifts from family members in the future would accept.
The Met’s decision to remove the Sackler name after it was established by gifts from the past is noteworthy, as most museums are prior to such a move due to prospects such as contractual obligations and uncertainty about how future donors might react stopped. But there have been exceptions. In 2019, the Louvre covered the family name in its Sackler Wing of Oriental Antiquities, though a museum spokesman at the time declined to confirm it was an official removal. Earlier this year the Serpentine Galleries took the name Sackler from one of their venues; The museum claimed it was done as part of a renaming, not a removal.
Some have taken legal action to help institutions break free of contracts requiring them to keep the Sackler name on their walls. In March, attorneys general from 23 states advocated changes that could relieve museums of certain contractual obligations.
Daniel H. Weiss, President and CEO of the Met, appeared to welcome the removal of the Sackler name when he described it as a “gracious gesture” from the family. “We really appreciate that,” he added.