MET to turn down Sackler money amid opioid crises

The MET is the most recent museum to make the decision to stop all donations from the family who owns the pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma.

May 19, 2019 12:55
1 minute read.
Prescription pain pills are dumped out on a table.

Prescription pain pills are dumped out on a table.. (photo credit: U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO ILLUSTRATION/TECH. SGT. MARK R. W. ORDERS-WOEMPNER)


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New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art said it would refuse all future gifts from the Sackler family, the New York Times reported on Wednesday. 

The MET is the most recent museum to make the decision to stop all donations from the family who owns the pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma, and is widely known for being a patron of the arts and many universities. Tel Aviv University’s medical school is named after the family because of their donations. 
“The museum takes a position of gratitude and respect to those who support us, but on occasion, we feel it’s necessary to step away from gifts that are not in the public interest, or in our institution’s interest,” Daniel H. Weiss, the president of the Met, said to the Times. “That is what we’re doing here.”

Similar statements were made by Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, which said it won't accept further gifts from the family in March, according to the Times

“For more than half a century, several generations of Sacklers have supported respected institutions that play crucial roles in health, research, education, the arts and the humanities and remain committed to doing so,” its statement said. “Unfortunately, the current climate of litigation has created false impressions that we are working to clear up.”

As the Times explained, this is a "sign of the deepening disquiet within the art world over the family’s connection to the opioid crisis."

Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, has been claimed to be a root cause of the opioid crises. The opioid crises has killed more than 200,000 people, Vox reported. A court filing in Massachusetts claims that Richard Sackler pushed for misleading marketing concerning OxyContin, according to the same Vox report. 

Some activists have hoped that the MET would take a step further and remove the Sackler name from the museum. 

“TAKE DOWN THEIR NAME," a banner belonging to protesters read,  Art News reported in February. 

One of the MET's biggest attractions, the Temple of Dendur, is housed in the Sackler Wing. 

“While the allegations against our family are false and unfair, we understand that accepting gifts at this time would put the Met in a difficult position,” the Sackler family said in response to the MET's decision.

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