The Metropolitan Museum of Art on Wednesday said it would stop taking monetary gifts from members of the Sackler family who are connected to the pharmaceutical company that makes OxyContin, cutting a longstanding philanthropic relationship at a time when cultural institutions are coming under increasing scrutiny over their donors.
The Sackler family overall has a multi-decade history with the Met and other cultural institutions, and there is a wing named for them at the museum that houses the well-known Temple of Dendur.
But there has been increasing criticism over institutions accepting money from the branches of the Sackler family that are connected to Purdue Pharma, which makes OxyContin.
Purdue and the Sacklers connected to it are being sued over accusations revolving around their role in the nation’s opioid crisis.
Museum president and CEO Daniel Weiss said the family overall had “graciously supported” the museum for 50 years but “nevertheless, in consideration of the ongoing litigation, the prudent course of action at this time is to suspend acceptance of gifts from individuals associated with this public health crisis.”
In a statement to The New York Times, the Sacklers linked to Purdue Pharma said that “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. We respect the Met and that is the last thing we would want to do. Our goal has always been to support the valuable work of such outstanding organizations, and we remain committed to doing so.”
The museum’s decision follows similar moves by the Tate Modern in London and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City.