Obama’s presidential portraits kick off an 11-month tour of Chicago this week. Tickets are already selling

This week, Obama’s presidential portraits are on display at the Art Institute of Chicago, the first step in a 11-month tour, five locations. And the museum, which is now operating at full capacity, expects a large influx.

With the exception of two days, tickets to see the paintings by artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have already sold out for the rest of June, an Art Institute spokesperson told Artnet News.

For the remainder of the portraits two-month stay, general admission tickets will be issued in batches. The lines are expected to be long and the institution will set up a virtual queue system to manage the crowds, allowing ticket holders to explore the museum while they wait.

Visitors will find the works of art on the ground floor of the Contemporary Wing of the Art Institute, where the paintings will be displayed side by side for the first time since their creation. unveiled in February 2018. (As per tradition, portraits of former presidents and their respective wives live in various exhibition spaces at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC)

It’s a good place to start the tour: Barack and Michelle Obama had their first date at the museum in the late 1980s.

“The Obamas and the museum help define Chicago for people outside of Chicago,” said Art Institute president and director James Rondeau. Washington post this week.

The portraits, he continued, tell the story “of a president and a first lady, a tale of all the firsts they represent. But seeing them together on the wall, they might be a little more Michelle and Barack Obama. They carry all the historical precedents, and they carry a part of their humanity. “

The official portraits of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, painted by Wiley and Sherald respectively, drew massive crowds when they were installed at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery (NPG) in early 2018, leading to shattered attendance records and stories of gallery owners bursting into tears.

In the two years and the change that the works of art have been on display at the museum, well over four million people have seen them, a representative from NPG said – and that’s a conservative estimate.

People line up to view the commissioned portrait of former President Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery on February 20, 2018 in Washington, DC Photo: Carolyn Van Houten / The Washington Post via Getty Images.

After Chicago, the portraits will make consecutive two-month stops at the Brooklyn Museum (August 27-October 24, 2021); the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (November 7, 2021–January 2, 2022); the High Museum of Art (January 7, 2022 – March 13, 2022); and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (March 27, 2022 – May 30, 2022), in that order.

These five tour destinations were chosen for their connection to the artists and the Obamas, NPG director Kim Sajet told Artnet News during the tour’s announcement last year. Wiley was born in Los Angeles and is now based in Brooklyn, for example, while Sherald went to college in Atlanta.

“Due to the attention given to the museum by portraits, so many people discovered the Portrait Gallery for the first time. They came to see the portraits and then stayed to look at everything else, ”Sajet said. “I hope that is exactly what will happen in the museums where they go on tour.”

Obama portraitsWill be presented at the Art Institute of Chicago from June 18 to August 15, 2021.

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