The art world’s drug advocacy movement, spearheaded by artist Nan Goldin and the group PAIN Sackler, has just registered a new success. In a surprise move yesterday, July 17, the Louvre Museum in Paris has decided to remove the Sackler name from its wing of oriental antiquities and erased all mention of the embattled family, owners of OxyContin producer Purdue Pharma, from its website.
The move follows a widely publicized protest PAIN Sackler held together with the French group Aides Paris outside the Louvre. On July 1, the activists gathered outside the museum’s central pyramid to demand the removal of the Sackler name from 12 rooms in the Sackler Wing of Oriental Antiquities, previously named the Cour Carrée Wing of Antiquities.
In an interview with the French radio RTL on Tuesday, President of the Louvre Museum Jean-Luc Martinez denied any connection between the decision to remove the Sackler name and the recent protests. According to Martinez, donor recognition cannot last for a period longer than 20 years, and the Sackler donation was made in 1993.
In a statement today, PAIN Sackler disputed Martinez’s claims and accused him of spreading a “lie.” According to the group, the museum wing was named after the Sackler family in 1997, two years after the introduction of Oxycontin, not in 1993. Furthermore, the museum’s website and the plaques at the entrance to the Sackler Wing rooms still carried the family’s name just a few weeks ago, PAIN Sackler says. The group also claims that no official text of the Louvre mentions limits room naming to a maximum period of 20 years.
The New York Times reported that Sophie Aguirre, a guard at the Louvre, said that a plaque was taken down on July 8 or 9 while the wing was closed to the public. Nine other signs were taped over, she says, and a large sign acknowledging the Sackler donation was removed.
The Louvre has not responded to Hyperallergic’s immediate request for comment.
“We protest against this attempt to rewrite history and call on Jean-Luc Martinez to rectify his statements as soon as possible in order to make official the removal of the Sackler name from the Louvre,” PAIN Sackler said in its statement. “However, we, P.A.I.N., take the liberty of anticipating this official announcement which may never be coming, and announce that the Sackler name, in the 12 rooms of the Louvre’s Wing of Oriental Antiquities, has been removed.”
According to PAIN Sackler, the name Sackler was gradually removed from the museum’s website, and this morning plates at the entrance to the rooms had been removed or covered with tape.
“Our museums belong to the artists and to the public, not to the donors,” PAIN Sackler added. “Those of the institutions who have refused future donations from the Sackler family, we commend you for taking the first steps. Now it is time to take the next step and take down the name of this criminal family.”