The Met Removes Sackler Family Name From Museum's Galleries Following Opioid Controversy

In a reaction to the Sackler family's opioid controversy, New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art will remove the family name from its galleries.

In a Thursday statement, the museum and the Sackler family announced that "seven named exhibition spaces in the Museum, including the wing that houses the iconic Temple of Dendur, will no longer carry the Sackler name."

The statement continued, "The Museum and the families of Dr. Mortimer Sackler and Dr. Raymond Sackler have mutually agreed to take this action in order to allow The Met to further its core mission."

Pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma, which was founded and is owned by the Sackler family, has been widely criticized for its role in America's opioid epidemic. It also has been sued several times over alleged overprescription of its addictive drugs, most notably OxyContin.

In October, the Sackler family pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges as part of an over $8 billion settlement. As part of the deal, the company admitted it "knowingly and intentionally conspired and agreed with others to aid and abet" doctors who dispensed its medication "without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice."

More than 500,000 Americans have died from opioid overdoses since 1999, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Following the settlement, the Met told Artnet News that the Sackler-named galleries were "under review."

Several institutions have stopped taking donations from the family in recent years.

Sackler Family Met Opioid Crisis Name Museum
New York City's Metropolitan Museum says it will remove the Sackler family name from seven galleries. Above, activists hold a banner reading "Take Down the Sackler Name" in front of the Louvre Pyramid on July 1, 2019, in Paris. Sephane de Sakutin/AFP

The Sackler family has also been accused of draining money from Purdue over several years, before the company filed for bankruptcy, as part of an attempt to scam the bankruptcy system.

On Monday, lawyers for the Sacklers filed papers disputing that family members planned a "scheme" to "deliberately weaken Purdue so it could not reorganize [under bankruptcy laws] without" the Sacklers' billions of dollars.

On Thursday, the Sacklers said the family name would be removed from the Met so that other sponsors of the museum could step forward.

"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 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."

Mortimer Sackler made numerous contributions to the arts, including donations to London's Royal College of Art, the Louvre in Paris and the Jewish Museum Berlin.

The famous North Wing of the Met was dedicated to the Sackler family after its donation clinched the Temple of Dendur for the museum.

"The Met has been built by the philanthropy of generations of donors — and the Sacklers have been among our most generous supporters," Met President and CEO Daniel Weiss said in a statement. "This gracious gesture by the Sacklers aids the Museum in continuing to serve this and future generations. We greatly appreciate it."

The Sackler family name remains in spaces at the American Museum of Natural History and the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, England's Tate Modern and the British Museum.