LONDON – The British Museum is here to remove the Sackler family name from its walls, becoming the latest major cultural establishment to cut ties with the family over their role in the opioid crisis.
Decision, announced in a news release on Fridaycoming almost four months after the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York reach a similar general agreement along with the Sackler family to remove its name from several exhibition spaces, including the wing containing the Temple of Dendur.
The British Museum said in a press release that the decision was “by mutual agreement” with the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Foundation, one of the family’s charities in the UK.
The organization has supported the museum for more than 30 years, the bulletin said, making donations from the 1990s to 2013. Sackler’s name will remain on the museum’s list of major Court donors, because the museum “Always recognize the important relationships we have with each of our benefactors. “
While the British Museum is the largest cultural body in the UK to commit to removing the Sackler name, it is not the first, with Serpentine Gallery in London and Tate . museum took action to remove the sign. But the move could prompt other large organizations to follow suit. On Friday, a spokesman for the National Gallery in London, whose Sackler Room contains some of the museum’s most prized paintings, said in a statement that grants and support from Its improvements are “under ongoing review.”
A spokesman for the Victoria and Albert Museum, whose sparkling entrance has been named the Sackler Courtyard, said the museum had no plans to remove the name.
Members of the Sackler family founded Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin, the hugely profitable painkiller regularly blamed for contributing to the opioid crisis in the United States. In the UK, museums have more than often protested because of their connections to the oil companies over their connections to the Sacklers. Chris Garrard of Unstained Culture, an organization that campaigns to end fossil fuel funding, said in a phone interview that Friday’s announcement “sets a precedent because the British Museum has never released take an ethical stance on who to take the money from.” He hopes the museum will cut ties with oil giant BP, which sponsors the exhibits.
It is unclear when the Sackler name will actually be taken down from the walls of the British Museum. The press release says the museum is protected by British heritage law, and any work needs to be “done delicately”. “We therefore expect changes to the signage to be carefully implemented over a period of time to preserve the structure of the site,” it said.