Metropolitan Museum of Art drops Sackler name - Museums Association

Metropolitan Museum of Art drops Sackler name

Museum says decision was ‘mutually agreed’ with the family
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Seven exhibition spaces in the Met will be renamed
Seven exhibition spaces in the Met will be renamed Hugo Schneider, CC BY-SA 2.0

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has announced that it will remove the Sackler name from its galleries.

The decision comes after members of the Sackler family, which founded the pharmaceutical companies Purdue Pharma and Mundipharma, were sued for knowingly concealing the addictive nature of the opioid OxyContin.

Purdue Pharma reached an $8bn settlement and pleaded guilty to criminal charges in 2020 over its marketing of the painkiller, which played a key role in the emergence of the opioid epidemic. The Sackler family won immunity from further litigation in September this year and have given up control of the company.

A statement from the Met last week announced that seven exhibition spaces will be renamed, including the wing holding the Roman Temple of Dendur, one of the museum’s most well-known exhibits.

A statement from the Sackler family said: “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.

“The earliest of these gifts were made almost 50 years ago, and now we are passing the torch to others who might wish to step forward to support the museum.”

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The Met said the decision to remove the name was “mutually agreed” with the Sackler family for the museum to “further their core aims”.

Dan Weiss, president of the Met, said: “The Met has been built by the philanthropy of generations of donors and the Sacklers have been among our most generous supporters.

“This gracious gesture by the Sacklers aids the museum in continuing to serve this and future generations. We greatly appreciate it.”

The Met is not the first museum to loosen ties with the Sackler family. London’s Serpentine Gallery, the Louvre in Paris and the Dia Art Foundation in New York have all previously removed the name from their galleries.

The Royal Academy (RA) has opted not to change the name of its Sackler wing. In a statement given to Museums Journal, a spokesperson said: “The RA has not received donations from the Sackler Trust or the Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation.

“The RA has received support from Jillian and Arthur M Sackler, a different branch of the Sackler family.

“The RA is an independent charity and does not receive government funding.”

The spokesperson said decisions concerning donations and corporate support are made following appropriate due diligence.

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