Portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama are coming to the Brooklyn Museum this month

August 5, 2021

(L) “Barack Obama” by Kehinde Wiley, oil on canvas, 2019. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; (R) “Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama” by Amy Sherald, oil on linen, 2018. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

The famous portraits of President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are coming to the Brooklyn Museum in Prospect Heights this month. At the beginning of 2020, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery announced a five-city tour for the two popular paintings, which kicked off in June in the Obamas’ hometown of Chicago. Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald are the first African American artists selected by the Portrait Gallery for the museum’s official portraits of a president or first lady.

“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,” Kim Sajet, the director of the National Portrait Gallery, said. “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 experiences.”

This is not the first time portraits from the Washington, D.C. museum have hit the road. The exhibition “Theodore Roosevelt: Icon of the American Century” traveled the country between 1998 and 2000, as did “Portraits of the Presidents from the National Portrait Gallery,” from 2000 to 2005. The Portrait Gallery’s “Lansdowne” portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart also was displayed at seven venues between 2002 and 2004.

The tour kicked off with a stint at the Art Institute of Chicago from June 18 to Aug. 15, followed by the Brooklyn Museum from Aug. 27 to Oct. 24, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from Nov. 5 to Jan. 2, 2022, Atlanta’s High Museum of Art from Jan. 14, 2022 to March 13, 2022, and Houston’s Museum of  Fine Arts from March 25, 2022 to May 30, 2022.

Member previews at the Brooklyn Museum are taking place on August 26, while the exhibit opens to the public on August 27. The exhibit is not included with general admission; tickets are $16 for adults. You can reserve a spot here >>

The Brooklyn Museum will also host related events, including an Opening Celebration on August 28 that features music by Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber, art-making, and poetry; “Brooklyn Talks: The Sartorial Vision of Michelle Obama” on September 2 that will be a conversation with her stylist, Meredith Koop, and fashion historian Kimberly M. Jenkins; and a Drink and Draw on September 16.

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on January 24, 2020, and has been updated with new information. 


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