National Portrait Gallery
8th and F Streets, NW
3rd Floor, 20th-Century Americans Floor Plan
On February 13, 2018, the commissioned portraits of the 44th President, Barack Obama, and First Lady Michelle Obama were installed in America’s Presidents and Recent Acquisitions, respectively.
Michelle Obama remembers growing up on the South Side of Chicago and thinking, “being smart is cooler than anything in the world.” After earning degrees from Princeton University and Harvard Law School, she joined Sidley Austin LLP, where she met Barack Obama in 1989. Guided by the desire to improve her community, she left the firm in the mid-1990s to begin a career in public service. She directed community and external affairs for the University of Chicago Medical Center prior to moving to Washington in 2009.
During her husband’s two presidential campaigns, Mrs. Obama delivered poignant speeches that cen-tered on her family’s commitment to serving others and highlighted the importance of her role as a parent. As first lady, she focused on women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, children’s health, and military families.
Mrs. Obama selected Amy Sherald, winner of the 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, to create her official portrait for the museum. The Baltimore-based artist considers the former first lady to be someone “women can relate to—no matter what shape, size, race, or color. . . . We see our best selves in her.” Here, she portrays Mrs. Obama as both confident and approachable, in a dress by Michelle Smith’s label Milly.