portrait unveiling

Obama Presidential Portraits Unveiled on Social Media

On Feb. 12, 2018, the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery unveiled its commissioned portraits of former President Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama by artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, respectively.

President Obama was the first president of the social media era and the Smithsonian brought this national event to the world through social media. In addition to live coverage bringing audiences into the unveiling, the Smithsonian’s social media team also contextualized this moment using our collections and educational resources.

In the days before the ceremony, we shared the history of presidential portraiture, information about the artists selected to paint the museum’s official portraits, and other objects and stories related to the Obamas across our collections. Smithsonian accounts shared quotes, live video, photos, and more on Twitter, Facebook and in an Instagram Story.

Hundreds of thousands of people engaged with Smithsonian and museum accounts across multiple platforms. Smithsonian posts resulted in an estimated 3.3 million impressions.

Setting the Stage for the Portrait Unveiling

Live Ceremony Coverage

Obama unveiling before

Obama unveiling complete