In a Major Move, the Tate Announces It Will No Longer Accept Funding From the Sackler Family

The landmark decision comes just days after the National Portrait Gallery dropped funding from the Sackler Trust.

Dancers perform in "Pablo Bronstein: Historical Dances In An Antique Setting", in the Sackler Octogon at Tate Britain. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

In a decision that’s sure to have wide-reaching implications in the international museum world, the Tate galleries in the UK announced today that they will no longer be seeking donations from the wing of the Sackler family associated with Purdue Pharma, the company that produces the opioid Oxycontin.

The news was first reported by the Times of London.

Tate’s trustees made their decision on the recommendation of the museum’s ethics committee. “The Sackler family has given generously to Tate in the past, as they have to a large number of UK arts institutions,” the museum said in a statement, according to the Times. “We do not intend to remove references to this historic philanthropy. However, in the present circumstances we do not think it right to seek or accept further donations from the Sacklers.”

Theresa Sackler, who chairs the Sackler Trust from the UK and sits on the board of the Victoria & Albert Museum, has been named in a civil action in the US for her role in Purdue Pharma, which was led by her late husband, Mortimer Sackler, and his brother, Raymond. Since the company released Oxycontin in 1996, more than 200,000 people in the US have died of prescription drug overdoses. The company and family deny any wrongdoing.

Protesters at the Guggenheim Museum have been pressuring the institution to cut its ties to the Sacklers. Photo: Caroline Goldstein.

Protesters at the Guggenheim Museum have been pressuring the institution to cut its ties to the Sacklers. Photo: Caroline Goldstein.

Across the world, museums are facing calls to sever their connections to the Sackler family, who have their names on wings of institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Serpentine Galleries.

The move comes just two days after the National Portrait Gallery in London became the first major museum to publicly refuse money from the Sackler Trust.

That decision was reached in agreement with the trust, but the museum had been facing pressure from artist Nan Goldin, among others. The photographer refused to participate in a planned retrospective of her work at the gallery unless it severed its ties with the Sacklers. As of now, the retrospective is still on the docket.

According to the Sackler Trust’s website, it has “committed more than £60 million” to UK organizations since 2010.

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