Obama portraits leaving National Portrait Gallery to tour museums across the country
© Judy Kurtz

The portraits of former President Obama and first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaBudowsky: Bloomberg-Obama or Klobuchar-Kennedy? The Hill's Campaign Report: New challenges for 2020 Dems in Nevada, South Carolina Obamas share messages wishing each other happy Valentine's Day MORE will be temporarily removed from Washington’s National Portrait Gallery to go on a more than two-year, five-city tour.

“We’re a history museum and an art museum, and they are really great representations of both. This tour is an opportunity for audiences in different parts of the country to witness how portraiture can engage people,” Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, told The Washington Post. “You can use these portraits as a portal to all sorts of conversations.”

The portraits of President Obama by Kehinde Wiley and of Michelle Obama by Amy Sherald will be transported to the Art Institute of Chicago in June 2021, then move to the Brooklyn Museum Aug. 27 through Oct. 24, 2021, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from Nov. 5, 2021, to Jan. 2, 2022, and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta from Jan. 14 to March 13, 2022, before concluding at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston from March 25 to May 30, 2022.

The sites were selected based on various reasons of geographical and historical significance, including Wiley’s hometown of Los Angeles and studio site in Brooklyn, as well as the Obamas’ association with Chicago. The paintings will be in the Windy City for the former president’s 60th birthday in 2021.

The portraits, unveiled in 2018, have attracted record crowds to the museum, with the gallery drawing 2.3 million visitors in their first year on display, nearly a million more than 2017, according to the Post.