The Obama Portraits Tour April 3–May 30, 2022

From the moment of their unveiling at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in February 2018, the official portraits of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have become iconic. Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of Barack Obama and Amy Sherald’s portrait of Michelle Obama have inspired unprecedented responses from the public.

The Obama Portraits Tour comes to the MFAH after premiering at the Art Institute of Chicago in June 2021 and traveling to the Brooklyn Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. Following the Houston presentation, the tour continues to the de Young Museum in San Francisco and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The two paintings present a striking contrast to the formality of earlier presidential portraits and images of first ladies. Through the presentation of these now-iconic works by Wiley and Sherald, the exhibition contemplates how portraiture has given visual form to ideas of power, identity, status, and legacy throughout history.

The Obama Portraits Tour is expected to reach millions of people who might not otherwise have an opportunity to view these remarkable paintings. In addition to the paintings themselves, the exhibition features audio-visual elements and educational programs. This special presentation enhances conversations surrounding the power of portraiture and its potential to engage communities.

Shop the Show
Browse exhibition-related items at the MFA Shop online.

Flower Cookies
Enjoy cookies created by Cafe Leonelli at MFAH with inspiration from the iconic portraits.

► Publication
The illustrated book that accompanies the exhibition is available through the MFA Shop (713.639.7360) and the Museum’s Hirsch Library (713.639.7325).

Parker Looks Up
See an interview about The Obama Portraits Tour and the book Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment with author Jessica Curry and her daughter, Parker. 

Find out more about The Obama Portraits Tour from Anita Bateman, associate curator of modern and contemporary art at the MFAH; and exhibition organizers Taína Caragol and Dorothy Moss of the National Portrait Gallery.

The Obama Portraits Tour | April 3–May 30, 2022

Included with general admission. Advance timed tickets recommended.

This tour has been organized by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.
Support for the national tour has been generously provided by Bank of America.

Generous support provided by:
Susan and Fayez Sarofim 
Tony Chase and Dina al Sowayel
 Z. Greenberg
Ellen S. Susman
Jay Jones and Terry Wayne Jones
Merinda Watkins-Martin and Reginald Martin
Reginald and Paula DesRoches; Al and Kim Odom; and Barron and Lisa Wallace


Caroline Wiess Law Building
1001 Bissonnet Street
Houston, TX 77005
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