PAIN Group Anti-Sackler Protests With Harvard Students

PAIN Group, While Working With Harvard Students, Organized a Protest for Removing the Sackler Name at Harvard’s Art Museums.

Apr 22, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
PAIN Group
Members of PAIN and Harvard students protesting in the atrium of the Harvard Art Museums. PHOTO BEN ROBERTS


PAIN Group organized a protest at Harvard, with requests for removing the Sackler name from Harvard’s art institutions. They were not alone in this process. Overall, the worked in collaboration with Harvard students, who wanted the same thing. The protest occurred on Thursday, and this is the second one. Nan Goldin leads the PAIN Group.


Pain Group and Harvard Student’s Symbolic Protest

PAIN Group
Photo: Dumedi Malaika Menakaya. Courtesy of PAIN.


The Harvard Art Museums is among last institutions that still carries the Sackler name. Students and PAIN Group organized the protest outside of the Arthur M. Sackler Museum. They don’t want the connection with the Sackler family, because of their role in opioid crisis. The protest also had a symbolic meaning. In the museum’s atrium, people threw phony prescription bottles and medications.


Also, some of them carried placards with inscriptions such as: “Shame on Sackler” and “Take Down Their Name”. Many of them were lying on the floor, wanting to point out the large number of deaths caused by opioids. The family is mostly blamed for the production of the drug OxyContin. OnxyContin is an addictive pain reliever.

PAIN Group
Protestors staging a “die-in” at Harvard’s Arthur M. Sackler Museum. Photo: Ben Roberts. Courtesy of PAIN.


The PAIN Group also has a major role in exposing the Sackler family. Thanks to their involvement, cultural institutions around the world removed the Sackler name from their institutions. Also, they decided not to accept any kind of gifts from them anymore. But, the Arthur M. Sackler Museum remains an exception. We will see if this protest has the same results as it did to other institutions.


“To claim that Arthur Sackler is innocent is historically inaccurate”, Goldin

PAIN protest against the Sackler Family
Photo courtesy of Sackler PAIN

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Goldin did not personally participate in the protest, but the night before the protest, she joined the paid screening via Zoom, for Laura Poitras’s Oscar-nominated documentary. The documentary is about the artist and her activist work. At this event Goldin said:” to claim that Arthur Sackler is innocent is historically inaccurate. He designed the corrupt pharmaceutical advertising scheme used by Purdue to flood America with Oxy, igniting the overdose crisis. Arthur is as responsible as any of the Sacklers.”.


Harvard did not immediately respond to comments. Later on, the spokesperson for the museum commented on the events. The university devised a framework for thinking about renaming areas, initiatives, or other things. A request to remove the Sackler name from Harvard’s cultural institutions has been initiated, and is currently being discussed within the administration.


Sackler PAIN protesting
Sackler PAIN protesting the Louvre in Paris. Photo courtesy of Sackler PAIN.


Overall, students are not satisfied with the hypocrisy of the Harvard administration. Why? Because it looks like the university is holding off on removing the Sackler name from its buildings. Also, not only Sackler but Winthrop name too. when they had just renamed the school’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences after conservative billionaire Ken Griffin. Recently, he donated $300 million to Harvard.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.