Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery Prepares for “The Obama Portraits Tour”

View Michelle Obama’s Likeness by Amy Sherald in Washington, D.C., Through May 23 With Free, Timed-Entry Passes
May 18, 2021
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Graphic with images of portrait paintings and text: "The Obama Portraits Tour"

Credit information: (L) “Barack Obama” by Kehinde Wiley, 2018, oil on canvas, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. Copyright 2018 Kehinde Wiley; (R) “Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama” (detail) by Amy Sherald, 2018, oil on linen, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. The National Portrait Gallery is grateful to the generous donors who made these commissions possible and proudly recognizes them at Support for the national tour has been generously provided by Bank of America.

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery announces the final chance to view the popular portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama by Amy Sherald before it departs Washington, D.C., for a five-stop national tour, with Kehinde Wiley’s iconic portrait of former President Barack Obama. “The Obama Portraits Tour” will commence in Chicago June 18 and will continue across the United States through May 30, 2022, before returning to Washington. This is one of several national initiatives set by the Portrait Gallery to engage communities in the power of portraiture. Visitors hoping for a last look at the portrait of Michelle Obama before its departure can view the painting, alongside the featured gown designed by Michelle Smith’s label Milly, through May 23 as part of the special exhibition “Every Eye Is Upon Me: First Ladies of the United States.” Free, timed-entry passes for all ages in accordance with social-distancing policies can be reserved at Wiley’s portrait of Obama is no longer on display and will be next exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago when the tour begins.

From the moment of their unveiling in February 2018, the Portrait Gallery’s commissioned portraits of the Obamas have inspired unprecedented responses from the public. As part of the museum’s mission to encourage conversations surrounding the power of portraiture and to engage communities nationwide, it has organized a tour to bring these paintings to millions of Americans who might not otherwise be able to visit the nation’s capital. “The Obama Portraits Tour” will also feature an audio-visual element, educational workshops, curatorial presentations and a richly illustrated book. The Obama Portraits (2020), co-published by the National Portrait Gallery and Princeton University Press, and other related merchandise can be purchased through the museum’s store at

Tour locations:

The National Portrait Gallery recognizes the lead donors to the Obama portraits: Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg; Judith Kern and Kent Whealy; Tommie L. Pegues and Donald A. Capoccia; Clarence, DeLoise and Brenda Gaines; The Stoneridge Fund of Amy and Marc Meadows; Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker; and Catherine and Michael Podell. “The Obama Portraits Tour” is organized by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. Support for the national tour has been provided by Bank of America. For more on the tour, visit A complete list of the museum’s traveling exhibitions and locations can be found on the Portrait Gallery’s website.

Note to editors: The National Portrait Gallery is open Wednesdays through Sundays 11:30 a.m.–7 p.m. at Eighth and G streets N.W. Refer to for the latest visitor-safety guidelines pertaining to COVID-19, including a new requirement for free, timed-entry passes for all ages. For film crews, contact the Portrait Gallery’s press office to arrange access and escorts for all crews wishing to film in the galleries.

Select galleries will remain closed to the public for renovations until further notice. For the latest on which galleries will be open, go to before visiting. Additional exhibition information is available via the museum’s online press room:

National Portrait Gallery

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of the United States through the individuals who have shaped American culture. Spanning the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the nation’s story.      

The National Portrait Gallery is located at Eighth and G streets N.W., Washington, D.C. It is open Wednesday to Sunday, 11:30 a.m.–7 p.m. Visitors enter and exit through the G Street entrance. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000. Connect with the museum at, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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Concetta Duncan


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