Obama portraits brought more than 1 million visitors to National Portrait Gallery in first year
© Judy Kurtz

The National Portrait Gallery had a record breaking 2.3 million visitors in 2018 after portraits of former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama setting up big bash to celebrate his 60th A path to climate, economic and environmental justice is finally on the horizon Emergency infrastructure needed to keep Americans safe: Public media MORE and first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaObama setting up big bash to celebrate his 60th Poll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Jill Biden takes starring role at difficult Olympics MORE were installed.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that in the year since Kehinde Wiley's painting of the president and Amy Sherald's painting of the first lady were added to the Smithsonian museum, visits have increased by over a million.


Wiley's portrait hangs on its own wall at the end of the “America’s Presidents” gallery, where all 43 previous presidents are also featured.

Sherald's painting is on the third floor, next to portraits of Beyoncé, LL Cool J and Toni Morrison.

The Obamas selected the two painters from a slate of artists suggested by museum officials.

National Portrait Gallery director Kim Sajet has called the uptick in visits “the Obama effect."

"Viewing these paintings was turning into a form of secular pilgrimage, and the museum was becoming even more popular as a communal gathering place," she wrote in an op-ed for the Atlantic earlier this month.