Having already announced the renaming of its Southwest Wing, to the tune of $125 million, the Metropolitan Museum today has bestowed upon itself seven more renaming opportunities.
This just in from the Met’s press office:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art and descendants of the late Dr. Mortimer Sackler and Dr. Raymond Sackler today announced that seven named exhibition spaces in the museum, including the wing that houses the iconic Temple of Dendur, will no longer carry the Sackler name. The museum and the families of Dr. Mortimer Sackler and Dr. Raymond Sackler have mutually agreed to take this action in order to allow the Met to further its core mission.
The Met had already declared, back in May 2019, that it would “suspend accepting gifts from members of the Sackler family presently associated with Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin”—a gesture that I had then derided as “closing the door after the horse has left the barn.” This latest (belated) move should help alleviate the museum’s current financial challenges, not to mention the reputational damage caused by its prolonged association with the Purdue perpetrators. That drug manufacturer’s aggressive marketing of OxyContin under the Sacklers’ leadership is widely believed to have played a significant role in fueling the opioid crisis.
But what about the third benefactor-brother, Arthur Sackler, whose name was also on the Met’s Sackler Wing, and who was blameless in the OxyContin scandal (having died before that drug existed)?
As CultureGrrl readers may remember, Arthur Sackler had a falling-out with the Met after the publication of my 1978 ARTnews exposé of the museum’s secret Sackler enclave, which had housed his collection and was run by his own curator. The Met had hoped to receive that collection but (as I wrote here), Arthur Sackler subsequently cut a sweet deal with the Smithsonian instead. Nevertheless, he did contribute funds towards the creation of the Met’s Sackler Wing and appears to be collateral damage in its de-naming. (The Brooklyn Museum’s Elizabeth Sackler Center for Feminist Art is named for Arthur’s daughter, who is a trustee emerita of that museum.)
Although I can understand the Met’s not wanting to add insult to injury (or to discourage potential future donors), its statement today struck me as nauseatingly deferential to its jilted (and tainted) benefactors. It allows the Sackler descendants to take credit for “passing the torch to others who might wish to step forward to support the Museum” and it quotes the Met’s president, Daniel Weiss, as heaping praise on the Sacklers for being “among our most generous supporters,” whose “gracious gesture…aids the museum in continuing to serve this and future generations. We greatly appreciate it.” [Now, get outta here!]
Meanwhile, if it’s naming opportunities at the Met that you’re after, below (as sent to me by the museum’s press office) are the Sackler-identified galleries that may now be in play. Assuming that there are no skeletons in your closet (or misdeeds in your past), you can consider making a name-changing offer for one of these:
—The Sackler Wing (Asian Art, Sackler Wing, 1st and 2nd Floors) (year opened: 1978)
—The Sackler Wing Galleries (Asian Art, Sackler Wing, 2nd Floor, Galleries 223-232, Arts of Japan) (year opened: 1987)
—The Temple of Dendur in The Sackler Wing (Egyptian Art, Sackler Wing, 1st Floor, Gallery 131) (year opened: 1978)
—The Sackler Gallery for Egyptian Art (Egyptian Art, Sackler Wing, 1st Floor, Gallery 130) (year opened: 1978)
—The Dr. Mortimer D. Sackler and Theresa Sackler Gallery—European Paintings, Wing A, 2nd Floor, Gallery 600 (year opened: 1986)
—The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gallery for Assyrian Art—Ancient Near Eastern Art, Wing J, 2nd Floor, Galleries 400-402 (year opened: 1981)
—The Richard and Jonathan Sackler Study Center—Ancient Near Eastern Art, Wing J, 2nd Floor (year opened: 1981)
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