Fans of former US president, Barack Obama, and his wife and former First Lady, Michelle, may be interested in a five-city tour of portraits of them created by artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald.

Barack and Michelle Obama at the unveiling of their portraits with the artists
Barack and Michelle Obama with artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in 2018 © Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has announced that the tour of the Obama portraits will commence in 2021 and end in May 2022. This is one of several initiatives by the gallery to engage communities across the US throughout the next four years.

A portrait of Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley
A portrait of Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley © National Portrait Gallery

The paintings were commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery and revealed in a special unveiling ceremony in 2018 in the presence of the Obamas and the artists. Wiley did Barack's portrait and Sherald did Michelle's painting. The artworks are expected to reach millions of people who may not be able to visit the portraits in their regular home at the gallery in Washington, DC. In addition to the paintings, the tour will include an audio-visual element, teacher workshops and curatorial presentations in each location.

Barack Obama unveiling his portrait at the National Portrait Gallery
The Obamas' portraits are going on a five-city US tour © Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The tour will visit the Art Institute of Chicago from June 18 to August 15 2021, and the Brooklyn Museum in New York from August 27 to October 24 2021. It will continue to Los Angeles County Museum of Art from November 5 2021 to January 2 2022, and on to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta from January 14 to March 13 2022. It will finish up in the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston from March 25 to May 30 2022.

National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC
The Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC © Png Studio Photography/Shutterstock

“We view the country as our community,” says the gallery's director, Kim Sajet. “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. 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 experience."

A portrait of Michelle Obama by Amy Sherald
A portrait of Michelle Obama by Amy Sherald © National Portrait Gallery

For further information on the exhibition, please see here.

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