arts

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is removing the Sackler name from galleries

Published 9th December 2021
A sign welcomes visitors to the Sackler Wing at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art on March 28, 2019.
Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is removing the Sackler name from galleries
Written by Harmeet KaurLaura Ly, CNN
New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art will remove the Sackler family name from seven galleries, including the wing that houses the Temple of Dendur, the institution announced Thursday.
The museum said in a news release that it came to the decision with members of the Sackler family "in order to allow The Met to further its core mission."
"Our families have always strongly supported The Met, and we believe this to be in the best interest of the Museum and the important mission that it serves," descendants of physicians Mortimer and Raymond Sackler said in a statement.
"The earliest of these gifts were made almost fifty years ago, and now we are passing the torch to others who might wish to step forward to support the Museum."
Removing the Sackler name from exhibition spaces is the latest move the Met has taken to distance itself from the family, whose relationship with the museum goes back generations. In 2019, the Met said it would no longer take donations from the Sackler family because of the company's "production of opioids and the ensuing health crisis surrounding the abuse of these medications."
The Sackler family's company Purdue Pharma is the maker of OxyContin, one of several addictive painkillers that have claimed hundreds and thousands of lives. Purdue is now notorious for its role in the nation's opioid epidemic, introducing and aggressively marketing OxyContin beginning in 1996. In the years after, opioid prescriptions increased by millions while overdoses and deaths from the drugs started to climb, too. Despite warning signs, executives downplayed OxyContin's addictiveness and pushed doctors to prescribe more and more of it, reaping billions of dollars in profits each year.
The Sackler family has for decades made substantial donations to the Met, as well as other cultural and academic institutions throughout the world.
The Met's Sackler Wing is home to one of the most prized treasures in its collection: The Temple of Dendur. The family has also gifted a wing at the Louvre; a courtyard at the Victoria and Albert Museum; a center for feminist art at the Brooklyn Museum; and an arts education center at the Guggenheim Museum of Art; and donated to dozens of other institutions, including the National Gallery, the Tate, the Smithsonian and the American Museum of Natural History.
As lawsuits in recent years have brought more information to light about the Sacklers' role in the opioid crisis, however, several institutions have come under pressure to return gifts and remove the Sackler name from their facilities.
In 2019, the Tate gallery group said that it would stop accepting donations from the family, while the Louvre said it would remove the Sackler name from the walls of one of its wings. Tufts University also announced that year that it would remove the name from its buildings and programs.
CNN's Tony Marco contributed to this report.