Last month marked a year since the portraits of former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama was introduced to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. and the two vibrant illustrations of the couple have been a major draw for visitors. According to the Washington Post, the portraits of the Obamas were instrumental in helping the Smithsonian museum break a visitor record.
The portraits—which were created by artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald—has taken the visitorship at the gallery to new levels. The Smithsonian American Art Museum ended 2018 with a total of 2.3 million visitors; an increase of a million more visitors than they had the previous year. Those who work at the National Gallery’s information desk say that they’ve never witnessed new paintings draw in so many people prior to the addition of the Obama portraits. Gallery volunteer Mary Francis Koerner says that visitors would typically ask to be directed to the portraits of the presidents but that question has changed over time. “Now it’s ‘Where are the Obamas?” she told the news outlet. “They have brought in so many people. After 4:30 there’s an uptick of the younger generation, and that’s who they come to see.”
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While the Obama portraits are visually captivating, they hold deeper meaning beyond the surface. The couple selected two African-American artists to create the artwork; making them the first Black artists to receive presidential commissions. “Big museums like this are dedicated to what we as a society hold most dear,” Wiley said in a statement, according to the Denver Post. “Growing up as a kid in South Central Los Angeles, there weren’t too many people who looked like me on those walls. The ability to be the first African-American painter to paint the first African-American president of the United States — it doesn’t get any better than that.”
The National Portrait Gallery was created in 1962 and the tradition of adding portraits of outgoing presidents began in 1994.
Twitter Celebrates A Black Woman Becoming The Future Mayor Of Chicago
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The next mayor of Chicago is going to be a Black woman.— Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) February 27, 2019
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No matter what happens next, Chicago, the third largest city in the United States, will elect its first Black woman mayor and may elect a Black queer woman to lead the city. Hell of a way to finish Black History Month.#LoriLightfoot #ToniPreckwinkle— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) February 27, 2019
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The next Mayor of Chicago will be a Black woman, we’re witnessing history during Black History Month and unfortunately it’s going over most people’s heads.— Jason Hosey (@The_CoachHosey) February 27, 2019
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Either way, Chicago’s next Mayor will make history as the first black woman to lead the City of Big Shoulders! So proud of my hometown!! Good luck to @LightfootForChi and @ToniPreckwinkle! #Chicago #mykindoftown— Connie Jackson (@cjaxuk) February 27, 2019
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Congratulations to my hometown CHICAGO,on getting your first black woman mayor!!! More black history!!— wild wild hundos (@KeithDunning4) February 27, 2019
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This is how you close out black history month. My city Chicago Illinois Will elect a black woman to be the mayor of the city. One of these women will joined the ranks of Harold Washington. https://t.co/S6KPFyXQy3— Reginald Richardson Jr (@ReggieRichJr) February 27, 2019
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Interesting times. In Chicago a field of 14 ran for mayor, including Bill Daley of the Daley dynasty. Two women rose to the top for a run off. Chicago's next mayor, either way, will be a black woman. What does this say about our national future?— Tish Aguilar (@MommaTish) February 27, 2019
Amazing new possibilities.
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Obama Portraits Help Break Visitor Record At The National Portrait Gallery was originally published on newsone.com