Protesters gathered outside the Louvre on Monday, calling on the world’s most-visited museum to remove the Sackler name from one of its wings. The protesters, from the U.S. group PAIN (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) and the French group AIDES, waded into the fountains next to the museum’s iconic glass pyramid brandishing signs and banners that read “Take Down the Sackler Name” and “Shame on Sackler,” among other slogans.
The activists demanded the museum rename its Sackler Wing of Oriental Antiquities, which was officially renamed for the family after the Theresa and Mortimer Sackler Foundation donated $3.6 million for the refurbishment of the Louvre’s Persian and Levantine art rooms in 1996 and 1997. Mortimer Sackler and his brother and Raymond were the principal owners of Purdue Pharma when the company began manufacturing Oxycontin in 1995; the company is now being sued by more than 1,500 city and state governments for its role in the epidemic of addiction and deaths from the highly addictive painkiller.
The museum world must act. I hope the Louvre understands that artists and activists are mobilised to get the name removed, and the Louvre could be the first museum to take the Sackler name down. Often there’s a domino effect among museums and galleries. [. . .] The Louvre is one of the world’s greatest museums and one of the most visited museums on Earth. It has 12 Sackler rooms. But this crisis has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans and it’s coming Europe’s way. This is an emergency.
Amid sustained pressure from PAIN and other groups, as well as the increasingly toxic nature of the Sackler name because of the family’s role in the opioid crisis, many institutions in the U.S. and U.K. have opted to cut ties with members of the family and their foundations. The Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum, and the Tate museums group have all pledged to cease accepting donations from the Sacklers; the U.K.’s National Portrait Gallery and the Sackler Trust halted a planned £1 million ($1.3 million) gift. The Smithsonian Institution, meanwhile, said that because of the terms of its agreement with the late philanthropist Arthur M. Sackler, it could not remove his name from its Asian art museum.