Barack Obama and Michelle Obama visited the National Gallery of Art on April 28. The former president and first lady took in some of James Van Der Zee’s portraits from Harlem in the 1920s and ’30s and also visited the “Afro-Atlantic Histories” exhibit that’s on now.
The Obamas had a private visit. They were shown around by the National Gallery’s director, Kaywin Feldman. Curator Diane Waggoner accompanied them on their tour of the Van Der Zee photographs, and curators Steven Nelson, Kanitra Fletcher, and Molly Donovan were with them when they viewed “Afro-Atlantic Histories.” The former first couple ended their tour at Alma Thomas’s “March on Washington,” a 1964 painting in which the DC artist depicted her experience at that historic event. The White House acquired Thomas’s 1966 work “Resurrection” when Barack Obama was in office.
The Van Der Zee exhibit just closed this past weekend, but “Afro-Atlantic Histories” runs through July 17. Vice President Kamala Harris and recently confirmed Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson have also taken in the show.
In a statement, Michelle Obama said, “We love seeing work by artists of color, and we hope museums across our country continue to accept and display art like this for generations to come.”