Met dropping Sackler’s name from museum on opioid links

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New York (AFP) – The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City said Thursday it was removing the Sackler name from several exhibition sections, amid ongoing controversy over the billionaire family’s alleged role in the opioid crisis.

The Sackler name will be removed from seven exhibits, including the wing housing the Temple of Dendur, the Met said in a joint statement with the family.

The Sacklers – long a major benefactor of prestigious museums and universities – owned pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma, and are accused of profiting from the sale of the opioid OxyContin which is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths.

“Our families have always been strong supporters of the Met, and we believe it is in the best interest of the museum and the important mission it serves,” the descendants of Mortimer and Raymond Sackler said in the statement.

“The first of these donations was made almost 50 years ago, and now we are passing the torch to others who may want to come forward to support the museum.”

The museum in 2019 cut funding for the Sackler family, but has been relatively slow to get the name off its wings.

The Louvre in Paris became the first major institution to do so, dropping “Sackler” from its “Sackler Wing of Oriental Antiquities” in 2019.

The Met’s move is a notable break in ties, as cultural institutions elsewhere grapple with the sometimes problematic names behind their donations.

“The Met was built through the philanthropy of generations of donors – and the Sacklers have been among our most generous supporters,” said Dan Weiss, museum president and CEO.

“This gracious gesture of the Sacklers helps the museum continue to serve present and future generations. We greatly appreciate it.”

A number of museums, including the Smithsonian, the Guggenheim and the Tate and the National Gallery in London, refuse financial contributions from the Sacklers.

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of deaths from drug overdoses in the United States reached a record 93,000 in 2020, a peak due in large part to increased use. of opioids during the pandemic.

More than 500,000 Americans have died of opioid overdoses – prescription and over-the-counter – since 1999.

The crisis has also sparked a wave of lawsuits from drug victims and cities, counties and states struggling with recovery and prevention efforts.

Opioid makers like Purdue Pharma were the first to be targeted, accused of encouraging free prescribing of their products through aggressive marketing tactics while hiding how addictive the drugs are.

Purdue Pharma was dissolved in September following a controversial bankruptcy settlement, in which it agreed to pay $ 4.5 billion to drug victims and to states, counties and other entities in return for some immunity. for its owners, the Sacklers.

James C. Tibbs