London’s Serpentine Galleries Nixes Sackler Name During ‘Rebranding Process’

The Serpentine Galleries is now calling the space formerly known as the Serpentine Sackler Gallery the Serpentine North Gallery, the Art Newspaper reported on Thursday. The physical building in question—one of two spaces by the London museum used to mount grand contemporary art exhibitions—reportedly still bears the Sackler name.

The Serpentine said in 2019 that it would no longer accept donations from the Sackler family. That year, as she staged a show at there, artist Hito Steyerl called on the Serpentine and other museums to sever ties with the Sacklers.

A spokesperson for the Serpentine told the Art Newspaper that the changes regarding the Sackler name are part of a “rebranding process,” adding, “We recently introduced new way-finding terminology to help visitors distinguish between the two galleries. These terms will appear on the website and on all marketing materials.”

For several years, art institutions have been reckoning with their connections to the Sackler family, members of which have been accused of profiting from the opioid crisis through their company Purdue Pharma, the creator of the addictive painkiller OxyContin. Protests by the group Prescription Addiction Intervention Now (P.A.I.N.), led by artist Nan Goldin, have been staged at museums around the world with galleries bearing the family’s name, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Louvre in Paris. The Met, the Guggenheim, Tate, and other museums have said they would stop accepting Sackler gifts, and the Louvre removed the Sackler name from its Oriental Antiquities wing.

Scrutiny over Purdue Pharma’s business practices deepened this month, after the company filed its bankruptcy restructuring plan, which “requires members of the billionaire Sackler family to relinquish control of the company and transforms it into a new corporation with revenue directed exclusively toward abating the addiction epidemic that its signature painkiller, OxyContin, helped create,” according to the New York Times.

Last year, after Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges for its part in the opioid crisis, New York University’s Langone Medical Center announced that it would remove the Sackler name from its Graduate Biomedical Institute.


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