The family has long been criticised for its marketing and sales campaigns of OxyContin, a synthetic opioid which contributed to a US opioid crisis that has claimed over 750,000 lives.
The Sackler Rome Gallery and the Sackler Learning Officer at the Ashmolean Museum will be renamed, while the Sackler Library is set to become the Bodleian Art, Archaeology and the Ancient World Library. However, the Sackler name will remain on the Clarendon Arch and on the Ashmolean’s donor board, as a record of their donations.
The decision has the “full support” of the family.
Although the University has not received donations from the family or their trusts since the start of 2019, Sackler money will be retained and used as intended. The Sacklers’ 2 UK-based charities have given Oxford more than £10m since 1991, and also made donations to Harvard and US medical schools.
Institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the British Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum have since removed the family name from their galleries. This came following pressure from photographer Nan Goldin, whose group PAIN (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) has repeatedly protested the family’s influence and philanthropy in the art world.
Several higher education institutions, including Tufts University, Yale University and Edinburgh University have also cut ties with the Sacklers.
Goldin’s campaign pressured institutions to remove the Sackler name from their buildings. The group staged “die-ins”, where protesters threw pill bottles into museum moats, laid down on museum floors to represent hundreds of thousands of OxyContin related deaths, and used chants such as “Sackler money, blood money”.
However, Theresa Sackler was invited to the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race in 2022, despite insistent lobbying from Oxford students to boycott the family.