The portraits of former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama by artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald will be displayed early next year at the High Museum of Art as part of the national “The Obama Portraits Tour.”
Organized by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, the portraits will be on view Jan. 14 to March 20, 2022, in the High’s Stent Family Wing special exhibition galleries.
In addition to the portraits, the exhibition will feature an approximately eight-minute video providing background on the commissioning of the portraits by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and putting them into the context of the national collection of presidential portraits. During the run of the exhibition, the High will present public programs including a conversation with the exhibition curators, host student field trips, and offer teachers professional development opportunities presented in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery.
The Portrait Gallery holds the nation’s only complete collection of U.S. presidential portraits that is accessible to the public. It began commissioning presidential portraits in 1994 with George H.W. Bush and commissioned its first portrait of a First Lady in 2006 with Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The paintings by Wiley and Sherald are the subject of a richly illustrated book, “The Obama Portraits” (2020), which delves into the making of these two artworks. Published by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in partnership with Princeton University Press, the book, along with merchandise inspired by the artworks, can be purchased at the High Museum Shop and online at museumshop.high.org.
The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery recognizes the lead donors to the Obama portraits: Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg; Judith Kern and Kent Whealy; Tommie L. Pegues and Donald A. Capoccia; Clarence, DeLoise and Brenda Gaines; The Stoneridge Fund of Amy and Marc Meadows; Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker; and Catherine and Michael Podell.
Tickets are $8.25 each for the High’s members and $16.50 each for Museum Pass holders and the general public (ages 6 and over).
During the run of the exhibition, the High will host four free days, when admission is complimentary for all guests (reservations required). Those dates will include two Second Sundays (Feb. 13 and March 13, 2022), President’s Day (Monday, Feb. 21, 2022) and March 9, 2022. Reservations for these dates will be available later this year.