The serene, luminous Sackler Wing houses the Roman/Egyptian Temple of Dendur from 15BC (inscribed on it is ancient graffiti from 10 BC, and later from 1810).
I wonder about the remarkable scene, pictured. Simply to acquire and move that temple into this specially created wing/room ran around 25 million dollars, not including the room.
The issue of getting so little temple for so much money, requiring an addition which houses only it, a massive plinth and a reflecting pool, is a modern day concern. Where does the money come from? In this case, Sackler pharmaceutical money.
In March 2018, the NY Times opined “…museums might strongly consider rejecting further donations from the Sackler family, major philanthropists in the arts, whom the world recently learned bear a large share of responsibility for the opioid epidemic, through their pharmaceutical company’s production and fervid promotion of OxyContin”
Outside the museum, The Koch brothers, infamous for denying climate science and promoting right wing causes, provided the entire $65 million necessary for the refurbishment of the Fifth Avenue Met Museum Plaza.
Not far from the temple room, in the nearby Petrie Court restaurant, views can be seen through the window, up the hill to the west, of the obelisk named ‘Cleopatra’s Needle‘, some 1450 years older than the Dendur temple. The obelisk was cleaned and ‘refurbished’ in 2017.
Update Spring 2019: the network of UK Tate operated galleries and the National Portrait Gallery have discontinued accepting Sackler philanthropy.
May 2019 update, New York Times: further Sackler donations deemed unacceptable.