September 3–October 30, 2022
Multi-City Tour Organized by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery
The MFA to Offer Free Admission to the Exhibition on September 5, September 19, October 10 and October 30
BOSTON (June 9, 2022)—The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), presents the portraits of former President Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama by artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, respectively, as part of The Obama Portraits Tour organized by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. The paintings will be on view in the Lois B. and Michael K. Torf Gallery from September 3 through October 30, 2022. To celebrate the portraits’ debut at the MFA, the Museum will engage community partners on a collaborative art-making project that will be presented in conjunction with the exhibition—creating a unique moment for Boston audiences to respond to these captivating paintings of the former President and First Lady, and explore the evolving dynamics of leadership.
“Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald are visionary artists whose paintings both pay homage to and reimagine the centuries-old tradition of American portraiture, which has strong roots in Boston. It is an honor for us to host their Obama portraits at the MFA and to offer New England audiences a chance to experience these powerful works of art,” said Matthew Teitelbaum, Ann and Graham Gund Director.
“The Obama Portraits Tour is an opportunity to bring the power of portraiture to different audiences across the nation,” said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery. “Portraiture is incomplete without the viewer and these paintings have elicited responses that range from deep contemplation to pure joy. We are delighted to be able to extend this experience to San Francisco and Boston for a tour spanning eight cities with the nation’s capital included.”
“The Obama Portraits Tour” is organized by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC. Support for the tour has been generously provided by Bank of America.
The exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is generously supported by Suffolk Cares, Carolyn and Peter Lynch and the Lynch Foundation, the Crimson Lion / Lavine Family Foundation, and Patti and Jonathan Kraft. Additional support from the Adams-Budding-Cohen Family, Bridgitt and Bruce Evans, and Susan Clark Livingston. Media Partner is WCVB Channel 5 Boston. With gratitude to Converse, The 7uice Foundation, The Boston Foundation, and The Obama Foundation.
Ticketing and Free Admission Opportunities
Due to limited capacity, timed-entry exhibition tickets (general admission included) are required in advance for all visitors, including MFA members. Tickets will go on sale July 27 at 10 am for members and August 2 at 10 am for nonmembers. The Museum will offer free admission to The Obama Portraits Tour on four occasions: Monday, September 5 (Labor Day); Monday, September 19; Monday, October 10 (Indigenous Peoples’ Day); and Sunday, October 30. Limited tickets will be available in person on a first-come, first-served basis.
Member Preview will take place from September 1–2, and member-only hours will be offered from 10–11 am every Sunday during the run of the exhibition.
The Portrait Gallery holds the nation’s only complete collection of portraits of U.S. Presidents that is accessible to the public and began commissioning presidential portraits in 1994, with George H.W. Bush. It commissioned its first portrait of a First Lady in 2006, with Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The paintings by Wiley and Sherald are the subject of the richly illustrated book The Obama Portraits (2020), published by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in partnership with Princeton University, which delves into the making of these two artworks. The Obama Portraits Tour commenced in Chicago on June 18, 2021 at the Art Institute of Chicago before traveling to the Brooklyn Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, High Art Museum (Atlanta) and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Originally a five-city endeavor, the tour was later extended by popular demand to include two additional cities with presentations by the de Young Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
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. The National Portrait Gallery is grateful to all of the generous donors who made these commissions possible and proudly recognizes them at npg.si.edu/obamaportraitstour. The Obama Portraits Tour is organized by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. Support for the national tour has been generously provided by Bank of America. For more on the Portrait Gallery and the full tour schedule, visit npg.si.edu/obamaportraitstour.