In the wake of growing outrage over the role the Sacklers may have played in the opioid crisis, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Sackler family jointly announced on Thursday that the Sackler name would be removed from seven exhibition spaces, including the wing that houses the Temple of Dendur.
“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 descendants of Dr. Mortimer Sackler and Dr. Raymond Sackler said in a statement. “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.”
The announcement marks a significant break between the world’s largest museum and one of the world’s biggest benefactors, a potent symbol of the upheaval underway at cultural institutions about where their donations come from. Other museums have refused Sackler money, and some were quicker to remove the Sackler name, including the Louvre in Paris.
The museum had already severed ties to the family’s funding, announcing in 2019 that it would no longer accept gifts from the Sacklers, given their links to the maker of OxyContin.
“The Met has been built by the philanthropy of generations of donors — and the Sacklers have been among our most generous supporters,” said Dan Weiss, the Met’s president and chief executive officer. “This gracious gesture by the Sacklers aids the museum in continuing to serve this and future generations. We greatly appreciate it.”