New Policy Rejects Opioid-Dazed Donations

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City suspended accepting gifts from members of the Sackler family associated with Purdue Pharma and updated its gift acceptance policies.

A review of the museum’s gift acceptance policies 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,” according to a press release from the organization. Stamford, Conn.-based Purdue Pharma is the manufacturer of the opioid, OxyContin.

The vote by the organization’s Board of Trustees came last week, updating the gift acceptance policies by formalizing its review process for all new naming and other significant gifts the museum.

The Met’s Board of Trustees addressed the Gift Acceptance Guidelines at a vote during its May meeting following an announcement by leadership in January that the policies would be reviewed. An ad-hoc committee of senior staff and trustees studied the issue and the museum added to its guidelines a process related to gifts associated with a donor’s name and other significant contributions.

The Met Museum reported total revenue of $573 million for the fiscal year ending 2017, ranking No. 35 on the NPT 100, an annual study by The NonProfit Times of the largest nonprofits in the United States. Public support comprised more than half of overall revenue, about $295 million, followed by investment income of $210 million. Government support accounted for $17 million.

“Private philanthropy literally built The Metropolitan Museum of Art,” President and CEO Daniel Weiss said via a press release announcing the policy change. “What distinguishes our museum from its global peers, such as the Prado, the Hermitage, and the Louvre, is the fact that we did not begin with a royal or imperial collection. Every object and much of the building itself came from individuals driven by a love for art and the spirit of philanthropy,” he said. “For this reason, it is our responsibility to ensure that the public is aware of the diligence that we take to generate philanthropic support. Our donors deserve this, and the public should expect it.”