Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Nearly the end of the Sackler name on art buildings?

This is an update on how the Sackler name is being stripped from very many public institutions, art galleries and museums.

Two more art galleries have quietly removed the name - without announcement 

  • the Guggenheim in New York and 
  • the National Gallery in London

Photo: Wikimedia Commons courtesy Jean-Christophe BENOIST

I've written before about how the Sackler name on buildings which house art has become total anathema to very many people - both artists and art fans. For an explanation as to why if you're totally unaware of the furore over and fallout from the Opioid Crisis - see

The removal of the Sackler Name

You and I used to see the Sackler name everywhere. It verged on ubiquitous if the arts were involved.

Then artists started to get involved in highlighting why it was wrong.  See An astounding list of artists helped persuade the Met to remove the Sackler name | New Yorker

Very slowly - starting with the Louvre back in 2019 - the name has come down from various instutions of the art world

One cannot help but think that lawyers have been poring over the legal bequest documentation and should by now have now come up with clauses about "doing nothing to bring the name of the institution into disrepute" i.e. if you're naughty, all bets are off and the name comes down - and we don't have to give the money back!

There again..... I wonder how many institutions are combing through their bequest records to identify how much they've received from the now disgraced Russian oligarchs?

Art Galleries and Museums removing the Sackler Name

For the most part, those which had received significant funding leading to the naming of spaces waited until the legal situation was clear. Ties started to be cut in 2020 after the family company Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to criminal charges connected to marketing of addictive painkiller 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.
Museums Association
Here are the places that no longer boast a space or a building using the name "Sackler".

The Louvre said the reason the name had come down was that the legal period of donors’ name rights was over.
The Louvre Museum in Paris


The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Sackler family jointly announced that the Sackler name would be removed from seven exhibition spaces, including the wing that houses the Temple of Dendur.



National Gallery in Trafalgar Square

In Tate Britain, the Sackler Octagon gallery will be renamed and the name will be removed from another gallery room. In Tate Modern, the Sackler name is being taken off signage around the escalator and lifts, as well as another gallery room.
  • Royal Academy of Arts - the situation here is somewhat different as I've previously highlighted.  The Jillian and Arthur M. Sackler Wing of Galleries - designed by Designed by Norman Foster Associates are STILL CALLED The Sackler Galleries BUT these two are not associated with Oxycontin and it was invented after Arthur died.
I note even Kew Gardens has removed the Sackler name from what used to be called the very well designed Sackler Crossing over the Lake - and it is now just referred to as "crossing" - see Lake and Crossing | Kew Gardens - although the architect's practice has not yet caught up....

Who's left?

It appears that the only Museum - where the penny has yet to drop - is the Victoria and Albert Museum.  It still has (on its museum map)
  • The Sackler Courtyard
  • The Sackler Centre for Arts Education
although the word seems to be less obvious on other parts of the website. 

My suspicion is that there may well be a legal contract related to terms and conditions re funding and naming that they need to extricate themselves from.  Possibly some small scale staff rebellion going on too?

Either that or they haven't seen how Google has them listed.....

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