The Obama Portraits Are Going On A Tour Across America

Mª del Rosario Castro Díaz Mª del Rosario Castro Díaz

Obama Portraits National Five-City Tour

The National Portrait Gallery is taking the Obama portraits on a national tour next year and they won’t be back until 2022.

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery announced yesterday that the popular portraits of Michelle and Barack Obama would be heading on a five-city national tour next year. The traveling exhibition will kick off in Chicago on June 18, 2021, and will finish in Houston on May 30, 2022. 

Since their unveiling at the National Portrait Gallery back in 2018, the Obama portraits have been the focus of great attention. Thanks to them the National Portrait Gallery has seen a record increase in its number of visitors. Not only are the portraits stunningly beautiful but they’re also the first presidential portraits to be painted by Black artists — Barack Obama’s portrait was painted by artist Kehinde Whiley and Michelle Obama’s by Amy Sherald.


The Obama portrait tour will include audio-visual elements, Portrait-Gallery-led teacher workshops and curatorial talks, as well as an illustrated book called The Obama Portraits. The tour will bring the portraits to ChicagoBrooklyn, LA, Atlanta and Houston:

  • 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. 5, 2021–Jan. 2, 2022
  • High Museum of Art;  Atlanta—Jan. 14, 2022–March 13, 2022
  • The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Houston—March 25, 2022–May 30, 2022

The five-city tour is an attempt from the National Portrait Gallery to reach a wider national community who may not be able to come see the portraits in D.C.:

“We view the country as our community,” said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery. “Since the unveiling of these two portraits of the Obamas, the Portrait Gallery has experienced a record number of visitors, not only to view these works in person, but to be part of the communal experience of a particular moment in time. This tour is an opportunity for audiences in different parts of the country to witness how portraiture can engage people in the beauty of dialogue and shared experience.”

The portraits will remain on view at the National Portrait Gallery until mid-May 2021 when they are taken down to be prepared for their tour.

Feature image: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

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