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Smithsonian Channel to Air Documentary About The Obamas' Historic Portraits

In 2018, the official portraits of former President Barack Obama and forever First Lady Michelle Obama were unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Now, a documentary about the historic works of art by two Black artists, Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, is coming to the Smithsonian Channel.

Picturing The Obamas will showcase curators, journalists, and critics to “discuss the ways that the pair’s portraits disrupted traditional presidential portraiture and spurred museums to reach new audiences,” Deadline reports. It will also follow the portraits’ journey to various museums across the country.

The film will also highlight the Obamas’ legacies through the lens of everyday people including “a Latina community organizer, a young artist from Southside Chicago, and multigenerational members of the oldest Black sorority as they visit the portraits and reflect on the meaning of the Obamas today.”

Barack and Michelle Obama are set to make an appearance in the film as well.

“Barack and Michelle Obama continue to inspire individuals and communities nationwide. We are honored to have the opportunity to premiere Picturing the Obamas and explore the cultural impact of their portraits at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and this historic presidency,” said Pamela Aguilar, VP, Content & Programming, Smithsonian Channel, in a statement.

Kim Sajet, Director, Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, added, “When we unveiled the Obamas’ portraits, everyone in the room knew we were witnessing a moment in history, but I don’t think anyone anticipated the emotional impact these artworks would ultimately have on so many Americans across the country. Through the power of documentary film, Picturing the Obamas takes us out of the gallery and into communities, reminding us that art is powerful and portraiture can change the world.”

Picturing the Obamas premieres on Sept. 10 at 8 p.m. ET.