Dcms Museums And Galleries Sector Coronavirus Bulletin 20 Sept 2021

Author Archive for Dana Andrew

Interview with Sarah Costigan, Little Museum of Dublin, Ireland

This is the third in a series of interviews with sector colleagues about new museum practice and projects from Wales, Scotland and the island of Ireland.

Hannah Crowdy, Head of Curatorial for National Museums Northern Ireland (NMNI) talks to Sarah Costigan of the Little Museum of Dublin.

 

HC:  Sarah, would you tell us something about your museum.

SC: Founded in 2011, the Little Museum of Dublin is a registered charity (no. 19825).  We promote education and scholarship about the history of our city by creating, conserving and exhibiting a collection that documents the rich history of Dublin, and by engaging guests with our collection through guided tours, performances, education programmes, special events and temporary exhibitions.

We will celebrate our 10th birthday this September.  Over the past decade our dedicated team have welcomed over 908,492 guests, hosted 27,795 children in free civics classes and collected more than 6,325 artefacts.  Again, this was only possible thanks to the generous people who have worked with us to tell the story of the city – our artefact donors, team, volunteers, funders and community.

I joined the Little Museum in 2012, and have worked alongside the museum’s founder, Trevor White, to build this important civic resource at the heart of the city that I was born and raised in.  As deputy director, I work with our team, funders, stakeholders and board of directors to realise our ambitions and strategy.

My working day typically includes welcoming our guests, collection care, delivering on strategy objectives, presenting fundraising pitches, exhibition planning and working with our team. One current priority is to rebuild our inclusion and education programme as we move through the pandemic.

 

HC: What is special about your museum?

Founder, Trevor White, and Sarah Costigan, of the Little Museum of Dublin

SC: In the Little Museum, we are obsessed with three things: history, hospitality and humour.  And we are working towards our vision of creating the best small city museum in the world.

Our mission is to build awareness of Dublin’s history with stories, objects and powerful shared experiences in a world-class city museum.  Our museum is located in a Georgian townhouse on St Stephen’s Green that is owned by the city, therefore Dublin City Council is our primary patron, enabling us to run a museum of Dublin for its citizens.

Through this special example of public-private partnership, together, we have managed to create a world class city museum at a fraction of what it would otherwise have cost the taxpayer. We are very proud of this fact. We believe that what we have achieved in partnership with Dublin City Council is unique and special.

 

HC: What do you see as the main challenges for museums on the island of Ireland in 2021?

SC: For those of us who manage privately run museums (we, for example, are a registered charity) I feel that the first challenge is for our organisation to simply survive the pandemic. To keep the doors open, collection intact and lights on.

Fáilte Ireland, has used the phrase “survive to thrive” when speaking about the impact of the pandemic on the tourism industry, of which I very much believe that museums are part.

As individual organisations we need to rebuild our domestic and international audiences, our programmes and our revenue. All organisations are in the same boat. Therefore, not only do we need to individually rebuild our business – we also collectively need to rebuild Dublin, and Ireland, as a world class and safe tourism destination.

Public health comes first. Without question. However, another challenge is that Ireland is a nation of storytellers.  A guided tour and human conversation is at the heart of a meaningful visit to many museums.

Indoor guided tours are not permitted under the current government guidelines.  Again, health comes first – but it is very difficult to deliver the quality of experience that we want our guests to receive when a core part of the experience is missing.

 

HC: What do you see as the main opportunities for museums on the island of Ireland in 2021?

SC: I run an online initiative called 120 Dublin Stories, this is a weekly webcast run with Santa Rita Estates.  Speakers have included archivists, urban planners, historians, writers, museum directors, academics, social advocates and political figures.  One recurring theme in these conversations is the need for public conversations about placemaking.  A vision and a plan for the role that each of us can play in developing our city, and its future.

Museums help citizens to look to the past.  To understand what has come before.  A place for ideas to form and for citizens to have their voices heard. To discuss what our future might look like.

Recognising this opportunity, we are working with social commentator and journalist Frank McDonald to curate an exhibition and publish a book which looks at our city’s history and presents a vision for the future of Dublin.  Launching in Autumn 2021, we hope that this project will start lots of conversations within and outside the walls of the Little Museum.

I believe we have an opportunity to inject honest fun into our younger generations’ museum experience.  The pandemic has been an awfully difficult time for everyone. Life has been on hold. Life has been lost. It has impacted and affected us all in different ways.  Children have lost out on vital learning time, social development opportunities, fun and, at times, the simple right to be a carefree child.

Museums have an opportunity to create a space for imagination, for play, for learning and for laughter.  It might be loud. It could be intergenerational. But, it should be fun. I don’t think this responsibility is uniquely ours as a sector, however I do think it’s important, so worth naming.

 

HC: We understand that the Little Museum is working on a cross-border exhibition with National Museums Northern Ireland, to mark the centenary of the partition of Ireland. Could you tell us more about this?

SC: Over the last 100 years, many Irish politicians have argued that the border with Northern Ireland should be removed.  This has been a topic of much discussion in recent years.  However, many people in the Republic of Ireland know little about the customs, culture and history of Northern Ireland.

To put it simply: ‘You say you love me but you don’t even know me.’

Coinciding with the centenary of partition, this remarkable exhibition will introduce (or, in some cases, re-introduce) Northern Ireland to the people of Dublin.  Featuring 20-25 artefacts from the National Museums of Northern Ireland collection, You say you love me but you don’t even know me will explore different varieties of ‘Irishness’ without ignoring contested elements of our complex shared history.

Co-curated by staff from National Museums NI, who will each select items from their collection, this landmark exhibition will present a very personal take on the history of Northern Ireland to a new generation of museum-goers.  We are incredibly proud to be building this important and timely partnership with the National Museums NI.

As part of our access program, admission to this exhibition will be free every Wednesday morning thanks to a partnership that we have with BNY Mellon.

 

HC: What should we look out for at your museum over the next 12 months?

Sarah Costigan photographed with the Little Museum of Dublin Board of Directors after winning the Best Dublin Tourism Experience at the Irish Tourism Industry Awards 2019. Pictured (l-r) entrepreneurs Brody Sweeney & June O’Connell, former Lord Mayors of Dublin Councillor Mary Freehill & Councillor Nial Ring, treasurer Brian Geraghty and creative writing educator James Ryan

SC: We are also excited about working with Senator Eileen Flynn, artist Fiona McDonnell & researcher Niamh Scully on an important new commission.  This project is being made possible by the Heritage Council and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports & Media.

As society starts to reopen, we have reflected on our shared need for human connection after the isolation experienced this past year.  There is an intense need to foster inclusion, a sense of place and community spirit – especially for otherwise under-represented communities.  We are challenged by the idea that we are on one hand longing for human connection, but on the other hand, exclusionary and divided as a society.

We will create a permanent exhibit – a modern tapestry – and online exhibit about the life and work of Senator Flynn, who recently made history as the first woman from the Travelling community to sit in the Seanad.

Fiona McDonnell is an acclaimed illustrator with a distinct and colourful style of work.  Fiona has worked on many social issue campaigns, including End Period Poverty with Uplift and Free Safe Legal with Dazed. Her work fosters conversation and a sense of inclusivity.

You can not be what you can not see is a phrase often heard when dealing with women’s empowerment and marginalised communities.  Senator Flynn is committed to securing real equality and human rights for Traveller women and girls.  She is an exceptional role model.

 

You can contact Sarah Costigan at sarah@littlemuseum.ie

MGS Survey on Empire, Slavery and Scotland’s Museums

A project is taking place called Empire, Slavery and Scotland’s Museums.

This project is exploring the ways Scottish museums can help empower people to explore Scotland’s connections with empire, slavery and racism. The project gives you the opportunity to shape Scotland’s museums.

We want to hear your views and listen to your experiences. Your thoughts and reactions will help shape the way forward.

In this survey, we have tried to use accessible and inclusive language. You can look up terms in our glossary.

This survey is available in other languages and formats upon request. Please email essm@museumsgalleriesscotland.org.uk

For more than 200 years, Scotland’s economy was closely tied to imperial trade and conquest. People from all over Scotland were participants in and drivers of the British Empire, both at home and overseas as politicians, businesses, traders, settlers, colonial administrators, soldiers, missionaries and forced migrants. The wealth generated from the systems of chattel slavery and colonialism enriched Scotland at the expense of the places which were colonisedThe legacies of colonialism remain today as do strong links between Scotland and its international diaspora. 

Scotland’s museum sector is increasingly vocal in its commitment to use its collections to acknowledge and confront our history. This project, sponsored by the Scottish Government, will explore how Scotland’s museums can contribute to our understanding of the legacies of chattel slavery, empire and colonialism.

Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) recognises the impact that empire and colonialism has had on our institutions and their collections, and stands with anti-racist education worldwide. As the National Development Body for Scotland’s museums and galleries MGS has a responsibility to encourage and support museums to challenge and critically interrogate their own practices and collections.

This nationwide project, Empire, Slavery & Scotland’s Museums, will build on existing work from within the equalities sector and from across Scotland’s museums, to explore the mechanisms of how Scotland can confront challenging histories within museum spaces.

British Council—the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations—winds down in 20 countries

This article was first published by The Art Newspaper.

In a blow to the UK’s standing as a soft culture superpower, the British Council is “significantly reducing its operations” in 20 countries including Afghanistan and Australia as part of a cost-cutting exercise.

A British Council spokesperson tells The Art Newspaper that due to the impact of Covid on the council’s commercial income, which was previously used to subsidise programming, and an overall decline in the government’s grant budget compared to pre-Covid, the organisation faces a significant funding shortfall.

“As a result of a ministerial decision, we will no longer be able to spend grant-in-aid in as many countries as we do today. We are still working through what this means for each country including for our arts projects. It may mean that we will need to look at delivering our work either remotely from neighbouring countries or digitally,” she says.

Grant-in-aid programming will cease altogether in Afghanistan, Australia—following completion of the UK/Australia cultural season in 2022—Belgium, Canada, Chile, Namibia, New Zealand, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Uruguay and the US.

In nine countries the British Council is proposing that grant-in-aid programming will be run remotely from a neighbouring country in a phased approach over two years; these are Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Malta, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland. Online platforms offering English language lessons and virtual arts festivals will be expanded.

But in parliament in June, the Minister for Asia at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Nigel Adams, stated that the government is providing the British Council with £149m in grant-in-aid this year and £189m next year, an increase of 26%. “We have [also] provided the British Council with a £145m Covid loan and are providing a £100m loan to help it to restructure,” he said.

The Conservative MP John Baron asked about possible closures at the parliamentary debate, saying that the government has “stepped forward” but its funding is still £10m short of what the British Council needs to maintain its international network.

“The number [of potential closures] varies from five to 20, but even five would represent the largest set of closures in the British Council’s history, and all for the sake of a £10m shortfall in funding,” Baron said. He added that the British Council usually derives only 15% of its funding from the government because of its commercial activities, including English language teaching, but these revenue streams have been “savaged by the pandemic”.

The Oxford academic Jennifer Cassidy tweeted that “the British Council —the UK’s main cultural and diplomatic institution abroad—is facing substantial job cuts/office closures around the world. This is such awful news.”

Free Vastari webinar, 5 Oct 2021 – Elephant in the Room: Are temporary exhibitions under threat or do museums need them more than ever?

Elephant in the Room: Are temporary exhibitions under threat or do museums need them more than ever?

Tuesday 5 October 2021, 17:00 (UK time)

In 2021, institutions are trying to do whatever they can to keep their doors open, while wrestling with staff shortages, budget cuts and a stronger awareness of their own environmental responsibility. When taking into account the high cost, risk and environmental impact of exhibitions, is there a more sustainable way for museums to bring people back into their institutions? Can they continue to rely on high performing big-ticket touring shows for income? What about smaller museums that can’t afford these exhibits in the first place? Is there a more economically and environmentally sustainable way forward?

In this webinar, we will debate the importance of touring exhibitions while discussing sustainability, hyper-locality and the reality of making ends meet for museums in their current reality.

 

Register here:

https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/7516317144051/WN_870PXuU4QveqMB-7fLXVJg

See the full season schedule for the Vastari Connects webinar series at https://landing.vastari.com/vastari-connects-webinars-autumn-2021

After the withdrawal, U.S. museums need to tell a richer story about Afghanistan

This article was first published by the Los Angeles Times.

Over the years, the U.S. public has shown little appetite for the war in Afghanistan. The same could be said for the country’s cultural institutions. We have been at war with and occupied Afghanistan for two decades, yet culturally it has been a blip.

“It takes a lot of convincing to make anyone want to do shows about it,” says Muheb Esmat, an Afghan independent curator based in New York City. “This war has been going on for a long time, but we only get into it when it’s a catastrophe.”

A year ago, Esmat organized “No End in Sight,” the first U.S. solo show of work by Afghan artist Aziz Hazara, who is based in Berlin. Staged at the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College in New York’s Hudson Valley, the works examined the ways in which media and technology — such as omnipresent night vision technology — have shaped the way we have viewed the war in Afghanistan.

Early last year, Hazara was also the subject of an installation at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney in Australia. For that show, he presented a multichannel video installation titled “Bow Echo,” which shows five Afghan boys struggling to stand atop a windy peak as they play notes of warning on a plastic bugle. The piercing cries of the bugle, along with the ways in which the boys struggle mightily with the unseen force of the wind, are full of poignance and futility.

The Biennale, however, was shut down a little more than a week after it opened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, aspects of Hazara’s installation can be viewed online courtesy of the Google Arts & Culture initiative.

The U.S. military occupation of Afghanistan may have officially ended with the departure of the last U.S. evacuation plane from Kabul, but the cultural ramifications of the conflict will be felt for decades. How they will reverberate in the West remains to be seen — particularly in the U.S., where Afghan cultural representation has generally been sparse or, in some cases, remains focused on the ancient.

The biggest exhibition of Afghan art to be held in U.S. was perhaps the traveling show “Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures From the National Museum, Kabul,” which landed at various institutions in 2008 and 2009, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. It featured an estimated 200 ancient objects from the pre-Islamic era that illustrated the region’s strategic position as a Silk Road hub, a place where Persian, Greek, Mesopotamian and Indian cultures met and mingled.

Not only had these artifacts survived the centuries, they had made it through a particularly turbulent period of invasion and war at the end of the 20th century — stashed away by prescient curators around the time of the Soviet invasion in 1979 and unearthed in 2004 after the Taliban’s fall. Roberta Smith in the New York Times described these pieces as “triumphant” — a reminder that “every survivor saves much more than just itself: long strands of culture and identity and history waiting to be woven back together.”

More contemporary visions of Afghanistan by Afghan artists, however, have been harder to come by. Often, exhibitions staged in connection with Afghanistan feature photography by Western artists and journalists. There also appears to be a preoccupation with skateboarding girls. (The soft power of shredding.)

In the world of contemporary art, in fact, Afghanistan is generally registered through the eyes of Western artists — mostly famously, Italian artist Alighiero e Boetti, who in the 1970s became enamored of Kabul and opened the One Hotel, a guesthouse that became a gathering spot for itinerant artists and critics. It was there that he conceived his “Mappa” series, maps that question the subjectivity of maps and were presented in the form of an embroidered Afghan rug. Boetti would commission Afghan weavers to make the works, which would often takes years to complete. (One of these resides in the permanent collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.)

When documenta, the quinquennial organized out of Kassel, Germany, chose Kabul as a satellite location for the 13th edition of the show in 2012, Mexican artist Mario García Torres highlighted Boetti’s legacy in his own installation. Torres, who has a long-running dialogue with Boetti’s work, went to Kabul to find the location of the famous hotel and staged an imagined fax correspondence with the long-dead Boetti about the film he wanted to make about it.

It’s a charming rabbit hole. It also provides a limited view of art in Afghanistan.

“Everyone [in the West] who thinks of Kabul thinks of Boetti and his hotel,” says Esmat. “They trace his history back, but they couldn’t trace it back to the artists who are already there at the time that Boetti was traveling to Afghanistan.”

Boetti has received copious institutional treatment; the representation of work by contemporary and 20th century Afghan artists, not so much.

A show of video art from Afghanistan and Iran titled “Sight Unseen,” featuring work by artist and educator Rahraw Omarzad, appeared at New York’s Asia Society in 2009. In 2016, the Hammer Museum hosted Afghan street artist Shamsia Hassani for a residency. Last year, artist Mariam Ghani (who happens to be the daughter of deposed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani) presented work from her project “What We Left Unfinished” at the Blaffer Art Museum in Houston. Among other works, it included a documentary of the same name that looks at the stories of five films from Afghanistan’s communist era that were left unfinished. (It was released in the U.S. last month.)

Lida Abdul is one of the better known Afghan artists to emerge in the Western art scene. Born in Kabul, she and her family fled Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion. She ultimately relocated to Los Angeles, where she received a pair of bachelor’s degrees from Cal State Fullerton (in philosophy and political science) and a master’s in fine art from UC Irvine.

She has had solo exhibitions at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 2008 and the Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois in 2010. And she represented Afghanistan at the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005 — the one and only time the country has had a national pavilion in the exhibition. On that occasion, she presented the video work “White House,” which shows the artist painting the rubble of the former presidential palace in Kabul a bright shade of white. The piece was later acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Late next month, her work will be featured alongside that of high-profile U.S. artists such as Joan Jonas and Lawrence Weiner in the inaugural exhibition of ZACentrale, a new three-year project space in Palermo, Italy, run by the Fondazione Merz.

Despite living in the U.S., Abdul’s CV shows that she has exhibited more extensively abroad than she has here. And while she has appeared in various Los Angeles group shows, including several exhibitions at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions early on in her career, she has yet to land a solo museum exhibition in L.A. Not even a project space.

“No one has taken any interest,” says independent curator Sara Raza, who has worked extensively with Abdul for almost two decades, most recently featuring her work in a group exhibition at New York’s Rubin Museum titled “Clapping With Stones: Art and Acts of Resistance.” “They take interest only once there is a disaster.”

And when institutions do take an interest, the narratives presented can reinforce preexisting notions about Afghanistan — often dwelling on gender and conflict at the expense of everything else.

Gazelle Samizay is an artist who was born in Afghanistan and now is based in San Francisco. Her video work “Upon My Daughter,” from 2010, can be found in the permanent collection at LACMA. In 2019, she co-curated, with Helena Zeweri, the group exhibition “Fragmented Futures: Afghanistan 100 Years Later,” held at the Brand Library in Glendale — one of the rare group shows in the U.S. devoted exclusively to the Afghan experience.

“I think [institutions] should be self-reflective about what kinds of narratives they are accustomed to, the Orientalist narratives of the oppressed Afghan woman who is both submissive and exotic,” she says. “Those kinds of images and artworks sell really well in the West, but they are really harmful because they portray Afghan women in a really simplistic way that doesn’t acknowledge their agency.”

Esmat concurs. “There are different narratives and the art world needs to be supportive of that,” he says. “We need to take a wider look at the whole place.”

Afghanistan, says Raza, “has a very unique cultural topography, both in terms of climate and environment, but also its politics. It’s diverse. It’s multiethnic. It’s important to say that.”

Khadim Ali is an Afghan artist of Hazara origin who is now based in Australia. The Hazara have been persecuted by the Taliban and Ali was therefore born in Pakistan. His work draws from classical traditions (the painting of miniatures and epic poetry) but also more conceptual forms (he has created sound installations employing Taliban propaganda CDs). His paintings were shown as part of documenta 13’s presentation in Kabul and are held in the permanent collection of the Guggenheim Museum. Last year, he had an exhibition at New York’s Aicon Gallery.

Ali’s story is more complicated than the picture generally presented in the West, and his art represents that. This spring, in an interview with Ocula Magazine, he noted that the Taliban “are children of the West.”

“The were created by Westerners in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets at that time. And then after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, these terrorist organizations were left with no exit plan.”

For two decades, the U.S. and Afghanistan have been inextricably linked. But, in so many ways, our museums have failed to examine that. The withdrawal marks a moment in which to take a look.

“Tell the complicated story,” says Samizay. It’s the least we can do.

Brussels doctors to prescribe museum visits for Covid stress

This article was first published by The Guardian.

Doctors in Brussels will be able to prescribe museum visits as part of a three-month trial designed to rebuild mental health amid the Covid pandemic.

Patients being treated for stress at Brugmann hospital, one of the largest in the Belgian capital, will be offered free visits to five public museums in the city, covering subjects from fashion to sewage.

The results of the pilot will be published next year with the intention that the initiative can be rolled out further if successful in alleviating symptoms of burnout and other forms of psychiatric distress.

Delphine Houba, the alderman responsible for culture in Brussels, said she had been inspired by a scheme in Quebec, Canada, where doctors can prescribe up to 50 museum visits a year to patients.

In the Brussels pilot, accompanied visits will be prescribed to individuals and groups of in-patients at Brugmann hospital. “The Covid crisis, accentuating stress, burnout and other pathologies, has confirmed the relevance of such a project,” Houba told the Belgian newspaper L’Echo.

The institutions involved will include the publicly funded museums on the Grand Place, Fashion and Lace on Rue de la Violette, the Sewer museum by Midi railway station and Manneken-Pis’s Wardrobe, close to the statue of the urinating child. The Contemporary Art Centre on Place Sainte-Catherine is also part of the project.

Houba said she hoped that private museums and art collections would offer their services in future. “I am convinced of the capacity for solidarity from all Belgian museums towards vulnerable audiences to provide them with free access and support,” she said. “But the decision is theirs based on the results of our pilot experience.”

She added: “It has been shown that art can be beneficial for health, both mental and physical.”

Similar ideas of social prescription, used in particular to alleviate the suffering of people with dementia, have been trialled in the UK. An all-party parliamentary group report recommended in 2017 that NHS trusts should incorporate arts on prescription into their plans and that doctors should be educated on the evidence of its benefits.

Here Are The Major Museums That Refuse The Sackler’s Money—Though Some Keep The Name Up

This article was first published by Forbes.

Before the Sacklers agreed to cut ties with Oxycontin maker Purdue Pharma as part of a bankruptcy settlement Wednesday, the family made a fortune off the addictive opioid and other drugs, millions of which the family donated to cultural institutions across the U.S. and Europe in return for having their names emblazoned on them—but here’s which museums still display them, those that don’t and those that have refused to accept Sackler money going forward.

Serpentine North Gallery: once called the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, the London museum scrubbed the family’s name in March but denied it was over the family’s legal troubles, saying instead it was part of a “rebranding process,” though the Serpentine said in 2019 it would no longer accept Sackler donations.

The Louvre: The largest museum in the world was also the first major cultural institution to scrap the Sacklers in 2019, when it removed the family name from its 12-room wing of near east antiquities, which bore the Sackler name since 1997—though it also maintained it was over a policy that limited naming rights to 20 years, not the Sackler’s opioid ties.

London’s National Portrait Gallery: The Trafalgar Square museum refused a $1.3 million donation from the Sackler Trust in 2019, marking the first time a major museum turned down Sackler money publicly.

The Tate: The British group of art galleries said soon after the Tate Modern and Tate Britain in London and branches Tate St Ives and Tate Liverpool would turn down future donations from the family.

The Guggenheim Museum: The New York City Museum announced it would longer accept Sackler contributions a month after American artist Nan Goldin staged a “die in” protest had protesters throw thousands of fake opioid prescriptions down the museum’s recognizable Frank Lloyd Wright-designed foyer.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art: America’s largest museum also said it would stop taking Sackler money  in 2019, but stopped short of removing the family’s name from its Sackler Wing, home to the museum’s Egyptian Temple Of Dendur, one of the Met’s most popular features.

The South London Gallery: The small Camberwell art space returned a $172,000 grant from the Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation in 2018, a full year before larger museums moved to cut ties with the family.

Many of the museums that have pledged to refuse donations from the family still have wings, educational centers and even escalators still named after the Sacklers like the Met, the Guggenheim and Tate Modern. Other museums with ties to the Sacklers have given no indication they plan on dropping the family name, including London’s V&A Museum, where Mortimer Sackler’s widow Theresa Sackler was a longtime trustee, and the British Museum, which has a series of rooms and a gallery named for Raymond and Beverly Sackler. Others, like the Smithsonian system of museums, are unable to rename their Sackler galleries over perpetuity clauses in donation agreements.

BIG NUMBER

$10.8 billion. That’s how much the Sackler family is worth, Forbes estimated last year, making them one of the 30 richest families in the U.S.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

If more museums will strip the Sackler name after the bankruptcy agreement has been cleared. The Met told the New York Times in 2019 the museum would not make any permanent changes regarding the Sackler Wing name while the family remained in court and new information continued to come to light.

KEY BACKGROUND

A federal judge approved Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy settlement Wednesday in a $10 billion deal that will draw to a close thousands of lawsuits against Purdue Pharma and shield the Sacklers from future civil action. As part of the settlement, the Sacklers will personally shell out $4.3 billion and cut ties with the company. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 500,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2019.

ICOM UK