Following anti-Sackler protests outside the Louvre led by American photographer Nan Goldin, the museum has removed the family’s name from its walls. Goldin is the organiser of P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now), an anti-opioid activist group targeting the Sackler family for its involvement in the current opioid crisis in the US.
According to The New York Times, on 17 July 2019 a plaque acknowledging the Sacklers’ donations had been taken away from the entrance of the previously-named Sackler Wing of Oriental Antiquities, while 11 other signs bearing the name had been masked off with tape.
Goldin led a protest at the museum earlier this month, as part of P.A.I.N.’s campaign demanding that all museums, universities and institutions worldwide publicly refuse future funding from the Sackler family and remove Sackler signage. The group – comprising artists, activists and people dealing with addiction – is targeting the billionaire Sackler family because some of its members own Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin. The pharmaceutical company is currently being sued by several US states for allegedly misleading people over their risk of addiction to the drug.
After decades of philanthropic donations to cultural institutions internationally, in March the National Portrait Gallery turned down a donation from the Sackler Trust, followed by the Tate group and New York’s Guggenheim Museum. Soon after, the Sackler Trust paused all new philanthropic giving.
So far the Louvre is the first to remove signage, yet the museum’s president has downplayed the decision, stating on French radio station RTL that the signs were covered because naming rights had expired after 20 years. However, the Sackler Wing was named as such in 1997, which has prompted questions as to why the plaques are only just being removed.
Goldin told The New York Times she thinks “it happened due to our protests. It shows direct action.”