The V&A museum in Dundee has removed all signs associated with the disgraced Sackler name. This follows a similar move by the V&A in Kensington last October.
The museum received a £500,000 donation from the Sackler Trust in September 2018. Signage acknowledging the donation was taken down last month, with a separate sign in the museum’s Oak Room removed in September 2022.
The removal of the Sackler name from museums and cultural institutions has been a significant and controversial topic in recent years. This action is linked to the Sackler family’s involvement with the marketing and distribution of opioids, which have been at the centre of a public health crisis related to addiction and overdose deaths of up to 600,000.
The Sackler family, particularly members associated with Purdue Pharma, a pharmaceutical company, have been accused of aggressively promoting and profiting from prescription painkillers such as OxyContin, which have been linked to the opioid epidemic in the United States and other parts of the world.
As a result of these controversies, several museums and cultural institutions have faced pressure to remove the Sackler name from their facilities and donor lists. Some of the key developments related to this issue include:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art: In 2019, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City announced that it would no longer accept donations from the Sackler family. However, the museum did not rename existing spaces that bore the Sackler name.
The Louvre Museum: The Louvre in Paris removed the Sackler name from one of its wings in 2019.
Tate Modern and National Portrait Gallery: In 2019, the Tate group of museums in the UK, which includes the Tate Modern and the National Portrait Gallery, announced that it would no longer accept donations from the Sackler Trust. However, they did not rename the Sackler galleries.
Harvard University: Harvard University faced pressure to remove the Sackler name from its buildings and programs. In 2019, the university stated that it would not remove the name from existing spaces but would not accept further donations from the Sackler family.
The removal of the Sackler name from museums and cultural institutions reflects the public outcry and legal actions surrounding the opioid crisis. It represents the complex ethical and moral considerations that institutions face when their donors’ efforts are seen as conflicting with the values and missions of the institutions themselves.
The V&A museum confirmed that it had not returned the donation.