President Obama joins national gallery of presidential portraits

The presidential portraits return to their permanent home in September

Courtesy: CNN

(CNN) – The National Portrait Gallery in Washington has made a new addition to America’s Presidents exhibit.

The portrait of former President Barack Obama is now on display.

For the past month, National Portrait Gallery visitors have been disappointed to find the “America’s Presidents” exhibit closed for renovations. But starting Friday, in a temporary space, the presidential portraits are back on display, with a new addition – former president Barack Obama – both smiling and more serious.

For younger visitors, this is just another former president. But curators note, 50 years after the gallery opened, the “America’s Presidents” collection now for the first time includes a man of color.

Visitor Jean Vanarnan said, “It’s really quite a journey to start at the beginning and come through and then end with this.”

To be clear, this is not Barack Obama’s official portrait, which has not yet been commissioned. Until then, the 2013 Chuck Close portrait will serve as a placeholder.

Visitor Jim Cech said, “I think it’s a pretty interest way of portraying him.”

The temporary exhibit also showcases this installation called “Hindsight is Always 20/20” – a collection of word clouds from State of the Union addresses for 41 presidents – from forefathers like Washington and Jefferson, through modern presidencies Clinton and W Bush.

National Portrait Gallery chief curator Brandon Fortune said, “Two presidents actually didn’t deliver State Of The Union addresses which is why there are 41.”

President Trump’s first State of the Union will come next year, and visitors cannot help but wonder what his word cloud might look like.

Visitor Gabriel Reyes said, “Budget, America First, things like that, so we’ll see how that’s gonna turn out.”

The presidential portraits return to their permanent home in September. In the meantime, renovations continue, with curators promising a reimagined, interactive exhibit.

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