The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery announced that The Obama Portraits Tour will travel to five cities across the U.S. from June 2021 through May 2022. Audio-visual elements, educational workshops, curatorial presentations, and select merchandise will be featured along with the official paintings of former President Barack Obama, and former first lady Michelle Obama.
“This special presentation will exchange the conversations surrounding the power of portraiture and its potential to engage communities,” The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery said.
Tour locations include:
The Art Institute of Chicago; Chicago—June 18, 2021–Aug. 15, 2021
Brooklyn Museum; Brooklyn, New York—Aug. 27, 2021–Oct. 24, 2021
Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Los Angeles—Nov. 7, 2021–Jan. 2, 2022
High Museum of Art; Atlanta—Jan. 14, 2022–March 13, 2022
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Houston—March 27, 2022–May 3
“It was particularly exciting that Chicago was chosen to be the very first stop and it’s something that we really want to honor, because the Obamas and Chicago are inextricably linked,” The Art Institute of Chicago’s Director of Interpretation Emily Fry told People. “This is the location that has shaped the arc of their professional lives, and it’s where they started their family. It’s a homecoming.”
“Chicago has a unique connection to the Obamas, as does the Art Institute. Michelle Obama recalls visiting frequently with her family when she was growing up on the South Side, and the museum was also the site of the couple’s first date,” The Art Institute of Chicago said online.
President Barack Obama chose artist Kehinde Wiley, who is from New York City, to paint his official portrait. Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald was selected to paint Michelle Obama’s portrait. Back in 2018, both popular paintings drew strong reactions about how the artists interpreted the famous couple.
Sherald told The Baltimore Sun that she tells American stories through the paintings she creates.
“Once my paintings are complete, the models no longer live in the paintings as themselves. I see something bigger in them, something more symbolic, an archetype. I paint things I want to see. I paint as a way of looking for myself in the world,” Sherald said in the interview.
The tour was organized by the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.