The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery will extend “The Obama Portraits Tour” through October. The original five-city tour featuring the portraits of former President Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama by artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, respectively, will incorporate two additional cities with presentations at the de Young Museum in San Francisco (June 18–Aug. 14) and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Sept. 3–Oct. 30). The paintings will return on view in Washington, D.C., with celebrations at the Portrait Gallery in early November.
Unveiled in 2018, the Portrait Gallery’s commissioned portraits of the Obamas have garnered international attention. Initiated by popular demand from museums across the country and the Portrait Gallery’s mission to broaden discussions on portraiture, “The Obama Portraits Tour” commenced in Chicago, June 18, 2021, where it consistently broke daily attendance records for the Art Institute of Chicago before traveling to the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
“The very presentation of ‘The Obama Portraits Tour’ and the collaboration of eight premier institutions—the Portrait Gallery included—amidst a global pandemic speaks to the power of portraiture to bring audiences together,” said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery. “We look forward to further engaging West Coast audiences with the tour’s presentation at the de Young Museum, and exploring these contemporary paintings in the context of Boston’s longstanding tradition of portraiture during their time at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston."
- The Art Institute of Chicago—June 18 to August 15, 2021
- Brooklyn Museum—August 27 to October 24, 2021
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art—November 7, 2021 to January 2, 2022
- High Art Museum, Atlanta—January 14 to March 20, 2022
- The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston—April 3 to May 30, 2022
- de Young Museum, San Francisco—June 18 to August 14, 2022
- Museum of Fine Arts, Boston—September 3 to October 30, 2022
The paintings were commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery and revealed in a special unveiling ceremony Feb. 12, 2018, in the presence of President Barack Obama, former First Lady Michelle Obama and the artists. Wiley and Sherald are the first African American artists selected for the National Portrait Gallery’s official portraits of a President or First Lady. “The Obama Portraits Tour” is accompanied by The Obama Portraits book published in partnership with Princeton University Press and is overseen by the National Portrait Gallery’s team of art historians: Kim Sajet, director; Rhea Combs, director of curatorial affairs; Dorothy Moss, curator of painting and sculpture; and Taína Caragol, curator of painting, sculpture and Latino art and history.