Dulwich Picture Gallery has stopped describing its head, Jennifer Scott, as “the Sackler Director”. Although the south London gallery failed to respond to queries about her title from The Art Newspaper in March and April, it now emerges that the Sackler name was quietly removed on 1 April, with no announcement.
This follows growing concern over arts donations from some members of the Sackler family. Their company, Purdue Pharma, manufactured OxyContin, an addictive opioid painkiller which has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths.
Scott, who took over as Dulwich’s Sackler Director in 2017, was unwilling to disclose the sum that had been donated to support her post. However, the gallery’s latest financial accounts show that the director fund endowment provided by the Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation in the early 2000s was valued at £3.5m in March last year.
In addition, the pharmaceutical family’s charities have supported the Sackler Centre for Arts Education at Dulwich. There is also a Sackler education endowment fund, which was valued at nearly £1.5m last year. Part of Dulwich’s educational work is financed by the Sackler Trust, a separate charity which includes Theresa and other family members.
Dulwich is the latest UK arts institution with Sackler donations to distance itself from the family name. In 2019 the National Portrait Gallery decided not to proceed with the offer of a £1m donation towards its current building project. Last year the Serpentine Galleries dropped the Sackler name from its north gallery, which opened in 2013.
In February this year the Tate withdrew the Sackler name from its rooms and spaces and the British Museum followed suit in March. Last month the National Gallery painted over the Sackler name which had prominently appeared in room 34.
This leaves the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) as the only major UK museum that still attaches the Sackler name to an important element of its building. The Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation gave a multi-million-pound donation towards the museum’s new courtyard off Exhibition Road, which opened in 2017. The V&A director, Tristram Hunt, says the museum will now “reflect” on whether the space should continue to be known as the Sackler Courtyard.