presidential visit

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston opens famed Obama portrait exhibition with free Sunday celebration

MFAH opens famed Obama portraits show with free Sunday celebration

The Obama Portraits Tour
Welcome the Obamas this Sunday. Photo courtesy of MFAH

One of the most highly anticipated art openings of the year is finally here, and to celebrate, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is throwing a free festival for all.

The acclaimed Obama Portraits Tour opens at the MFAH on Sunday, April 3, and all are invited to an all-day bash. In honor of the inaugural day, the MFAH has made general admission to the museum and exhibit free on Sunday.

Here, visitors are encouraged to don their “Sunday best” attire and gaze upon the vibrant portraits of President Barack Obama and Former First Lady Michelle Obama, and enjoy live music, food, and activations and special programs.

Stylish fans can strut in a fashion parade and(and win raffle prizes) and decorate that aforementioned “Sunday Best” attire with wearable art they design with MFAH educators.

Attendees can snap selfies in front of floral backdrops made by botanical experts at the Bree Blooms Workshop or have portraits taken by the Jack Yates High School students, whose work is on view in “Eye on Houston: High School Documentary Photography.” Art activations include special artist talks and appearances by Mark Francis, Bria Lauren, and Marc Newsome, aka Marc Furi.

Performances include spoken word from Joy Priest and readings from Writers in the Schools Youth Poets and their coach, Houston Poet Laureate Outspoken Bean. Music comes courtesy of the Ocean of Soul Marching Band from Texas Southern University and local act DoubleDutch.

Other fun includes a garden grounds tour with tips on home gardening and planting and a discussion of White Teeth, a book recommended by Michelle Obama.  

H-E-B, the event sponsor, will provide snacks. Vegetarian and vegan treats are available from Third Ward’s Doshi House and Café Leonelli will offer $5 wine and $5 focaccias.

As CultureMap previously reported, the Obama portraits exhibition is a first for the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, where it originated: Black artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald painted the president and first lady’s portraits, respectively, making the exhibition historic in myriad ways.

Houston is the last stop for the tour that has drawn rave reviews and unprecedented public response. It launched in the Obamas’ hometown of Chicago before stops at the Brooklyn Museum, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the High Art Museum in Atlanta.


The Obamas Portrait Tour runs April 3–May 30 at the MFAH’s Caroline Wiess Law Building, 1001 Bissonnet St. For a full schedule of events, hours, information, and admission, visit the MFAH online.