Hundreds of the people took over the Guggenheim to protest the museum’s connection to a Big Pharma family. Protesters threw thousands of slips of paper that looked like prescription slips.
The museum has received million in donations from the Sackler family, who owns Purdue Pharma, the company that makes OxyContin. The Guggenheim even has a 8,200-sq-ft space called the Sackler Center for Arts Education.
A lawsuit filed by the Massachusetts attorney general’s office claims the family misled doctors and the public about the dangers of OxyContin. At one point the lawsuit claims former CEO Richard Sackler asked how much the abuse of Oxy would “improve sales.” The family directed marketing efforts to vilify opioid abusers in order to cast blame away from the company.
“We have to hammer on abusers in never way possible,” Sackler stated in a 2001 email. “They are the culprits and the problem. They are reckless criminals.”
Prescription opioids have killed more than 210,000 Americans in less than 20 years.
A 2017 New York Times report found the Guggenheim received $2.49 million from a Sackler family foundation between 2003 and 2015.
The same group of protestors organized in 2018 inside the Sackler Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.