Serpentine Removes Sackler Name from Website amid “Rebranding”
March 25, 2021
London’s Serpentine Galleries has rechristened its Serpentine Sackler Gallery as part of a rebranding effort, The Art Newspaperreports. The gallery, one of the institution’s two branches, is now called the Serpentine North Gallery, and this change is reflected across the Serpentine’s website, including in its online exhibition archive. The Sackler name is still present on the gallery’s facade, but does not appear in Google Maps targeting, which now brings up the gallery’s new name, though it is not known whether this is owing to the gallery’s efforts.
The Serpentine has for years been under pressure to remove the Sackler name after the family, previously most widely known for its philanthropy, became embroiled in the scandal surrounding Purdue Pharma, which it owns. The company filed a restructuring plan earlier this month that would allow it to exit the bankruptcy it pursued in an attempt to avoid some 3,000 lawsuits related to its aggressive marketing of the powerful painkiller OxyContin, characterized by the company’s downplaying the drug’s addictive quality while providing kickbacks to doctors who prescribed it. As part of the proposed restructuring, the Sackler family—which in October paid $225 million to settle a federal lawsuit but admitted no wrongdoing—would put $4.3 billion toward fighting opioid addiction over the course of a decade, while remaining protected against legal claims.
A spokesperson at the Serpentine, which opened the now-rebranded Serpentine North in 2013 with a $7.2 million grant from the Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation, denied that the name change represented the gallery’s attempt to distance itself from its onetime benefactors (the Serpentine in 2019 pledged that it would no longer accept funding from the Sacklers).
“We recently introduced new way-finding terminology to help visitors distinguish between the two galleries,” said the spokesperson, affirming that “these terms will appear on the website and on all marketing materials.” Whether the Sackler name will be removed from the gallery’s facade remains to be seen.