Art Market

The Louvre removed the Sackler name from its galleries.

Wallace Ludel
Jul 17, 2019 4:42PM, via New York Times

A protest by the group PAIN (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now)) at the Louvre on July 1, 2019. Photo by Stephane de Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images.

The Louvre has officially removed the Sackler name from its galleries, becoming the first major museum to do so. Since 1997, the museum had been home to the Sackler Wing of Oriental Antiquities, but as of Wednesday all references within the museum to “the Sackler Wing” have been covered with gray tape, and a plaque acknowledging the Sacklers’ donations has been removed from the gallery’s entrance.

This decision from the museum comes in the wake of protests held at the Louvre earlier this month by the activist group PAIN (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now). On July 1st, PAIN, a group led by photographer Nan Goldin, along with the French group AIDES, waded into the fountains besides the Louvre’s iconic I.M. Pei-designed pyramid and unfurled massive banners that read “Take Down the Sackler Name” and “Shame on Sackler.”

Members of the Sackler Family own Purdue Pharma, which manufactures OxyContin, and have been accused of intentionally fueling the opioid crisis and profiting immensely from it. They are currently facing more than 2,000 lawsuits from officials throughout the U.S.

The Louvre’s decision comes amid a wave of reckoning with Sackler family philanthropy at major museums. In May, the Metropolitan Museum announced it would no longer accept money from the Sacklers, but as of this writing it does not intend to change the name of its Sackler Wing, which houses the museum’s prized Temple of Dendur. In March, the Tate museum group and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum both announced they would no longer accept Sackler money; the decisions came only a few days after London’s National Portrait Gallery chose not to accept a £1 million ($1.3 million) grant from the Sackler Trust.

In April, Artforum ran an op-ed crediting Nan Goldin and PAIN as being the catalyst in this shift in public perception and accountability, calling Goldin “the self-replenishing fuel that has kept the Sackler story from burning out.” Goldin, along with PAIN, have held protests at many of the above museums and others. Each institution has an element, be it a wing or an escalator, named for the Sacklers. Some of these institutions are contractually obligated to keep the Sackler name on display, per the terms of their agreements with the family.

In a statement emailed to the New York Times, PAIN said:

Museums and cultural institutions must maintain their integrity. [. . .] They should not bear the name that is synonymous with the opioid crisis. Our museums belong to the artists and to the public, not to the donors.
Wallace Ludel