London’s V&A Removes Sackler Name After Years of Protests

London’s V&A Removes Sackler Name After Years of Protests

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is the latest institution to remove the Sackler name from its walls following protests from activists.

On Saturday, the Guardian reported that the V&A had dropped the Sackler name from its education center and one of its courtyards. The move, a museum spokesperson told the publication, had come after the family and the institution had “mutually agreed” to it.

“We have no current plans to rename the spaces,” the spokesperson said.

According to the Guardian, the Sackler name will appear continue to appear in some spaces while work is undertaken to remove it.

The V&A is the latest institution to pull the Sackler name in its spaces in the past years. Among the first major institutions to do so was the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York last year; others, such as the Guggenheim Museum, the British Museum, and the Serpentine Galleries, have since followed suit.

Much of the push for these removals has been led by artist Nan Goldin and her activist group P.A.I.N., which has staged high-profile protests intended to draw connections between Sackler donations and the family’s role in the opioid crisis. These efforts are the featured in a new documentary about Goldin by Laura Poitras that took the top prize at the Venice Film Festival this year.

Through their company Purdue Pharma, the Sackler family sold OxyContin, a highly addictive painkiller. Purdue, and the Sackler family, have been accused of knowingly downplaying OxyContin’s addictive properties and thus contributing directly to the ongoing opioid crisis. This past March, Purdue Pharma reached a $6 billion settlement with eight U.S. states that brought an end to numerous lawsuits. Through the settlement, the company will be dissolved by 2024.

Members of the Sackler family had been key funders of some of the world’s biggest institutions across the globe, donating millions of dollars to fund luxe galleries and centers.

This weekend’s news at the V&A is a reversal from the museum’s prior position on the Sackler family. In 2019, director Tristram Hunt told the BBC that he was “proud” to have received Sackler support—from members such as Theresa Sackler, who was a board member from 2011 to 2019—over the years.

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