The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced on Thursday that it will remove the Sackler family name from seven exhibition spaces throughout the museum, including the Sackler Wing which houses the Temple of Dendur. This move comes after countless lawsuits against the Sackler family and years of criticisms of art spaces for accepting money from the Sacklers, who up until recently owned Purdue Pharma, the pharmaceutical company whose main product was the addictive painkiller Oxycontin.

According to a press release, the museum says it came to a mutual agreement with the families of Dr. Mortimer Sackler and Dr. Raymond Sackler so The Met can "further its core mission."

“Our families have always strongly supported The Met, and we believe this to be in the best interest of the Museum and the important mission that it serves,” descendants of Dr. Mortimer Sackler and Dr. Raymond Sackler said in a statement. “The earliest of these gifts were made almost fifty years ago, and now we are passing the torch to others who might wish to step forward to support the Museum.”

Dan Weiss, president and CEO of The Met, said, “The Met has been built by the philanthropy of generations of donors – and the Sacklers have been among our most generous supporters. This gracious gesture by the Sacklers aids the Museum in continuing to serve this and future generations. We greatly appreciate it.”

Writer Patrick Radden Keefe, who wrote the definitive book on the family, Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty, wrote on Twitter that it is "hard to overstate the significance of this for other museums & universities. Many institutions around the world that still prominently display the Sackler name have been watching the Met as a bellweather [sic], to determine if inaction remains an option. How is there no domino emoji?"

As Keefe recounted in a story for The New Yorker on the Sacklers, Dr. Mortimer Sackler and Dr. Raymond Sackler gave The Met three and a half million dollars in 1974, enabling the construction of the space housing the Temple of Dendur, which opened in 1978. At one point, Mortimer held a "lavish birthday party" there featuring a cake shaped like the Great Sphinx whose face had been replaced with his; a decade later, when their brother Arthur died, they held a memorial service at The Met.

As for those other institutions featuring spaces with the Sackler name, Keefe wrote that they include "the Sackler Gallery, in Washington; the Sackler Museum, at Harvard; the Sackler Center for Arts Education, at the Guggenheim; the Sackler Wing at the Louvre; and Sackler institutes and facilities at Columbia, Oxford, and a dozen other universities."

The Sackler family's worth has been estimated by Forbes to be about $11 billion; they note that over the last decade, almost all 50 states have filed lawsuits against Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family for their alleged roles in the opioid crisis.

This past fall, a bankruptcy settlement was reached to resolve thousands of opioid lawsuits; the family agreed to pay approximately $4.5 billion, and also forfeit ownership of Purdue Pharma. As part of the settlement, the Sacklers did not need to admit any wrongdoing in the opioid crisis that has killed around half a million Americans over the last twenty years; they were also granted immunity from civil liability in opioid lawsuits, which the judge in the case called "a bitter result."

In 2019, The Met announced that it would no longer be accepting philanthropic gifts from members of the Sackler family, which they said at the time was "precipitated in part by recent scrutiny of gifts received from individuals related to the production of opioids and the ensuing public health crisis surrounding the abuse of these medications." Other institutions, including the American Museum of Natural History, the Guggenheim and London's Tate Modern, have also announced similar bans on gifts from the Sacklers.

Many of these moves were made after protests by activists—including P.A.I.N. Sackler, led by photographer Nan Goldin—who have staged die-ins at various city museums.