From the moment of their unveiling at the National Portrait Gallery in 2018, the portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama have become two of the most beloved artworks of our time. Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of President Obama and Amy Sherald’s portrait of the former first lady inspired an unprecedented response from the public, with visitor numbers to the museum doubling as people traveled from near and far to experience these larger-than-life paintings.
This week marks the start of The Obama Portraits Tour a five-city US event that will run from June 2021 to May 2022 and bring the iconic paintings to millions who might not otherwise have the opportunity to see them in person. To coincide with the tour, Princeton University Press will be donating copies of The Obama Portraits to schools and school libraries in underserved communities neighboring all five tour stops.
Over the summer, the Press will also sponsor a social media giveaway of the book for teachers across the United States. Accompanying classroom resources are available on the Princeton University website, courtesy of the Education Department of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC.
Published in association with the National Portrait Gallery in February 2020, The Obama Portraits offers insight into what these paintings can tell us about the history of portraiture and American culture. Engagingly illustrated with images of the portraits, exclusive pictures of the Obamas with the artists during their sittings, and photos of the historic unveiling ceremony by former White House photographer Pete Souza, the book also features a unique reversible dust jacket that enables readers to choose whether to feature Michelle Obama or Barack Obama on the front cover.
Full Tour Itinerary
The Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago | June 18, 2021–August 15, 2021
Brooklyn, New York | August 27, 2021–October 24, 2021
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Los Angeles | November 7, 2021–January 2, 2022
High Museum of Art
Atlanta | January 14, 2022–March 13, 2022
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Houston | March 27, 2022–May 30, 2022