Biden to host Obama for White House portrait reveal after Trump’s refusal: report

The decades-long tradition could take place in the fall

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It has been announced that President Joe Biden will host the unveiling of former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama‘s official White House portraits.

According to NBC News, the decades-long tradition may take place later this year, after the Obamas’ ceremony was skipped by Donald Trump. 

“They’re virtually done,” said a person familiar with the situation in regards to the Obama’s portraits. The event could take place in the fall when COVID-19 restrictions loosen up. The East Room event typically includes a couple of hundred guests.

Obama Biden thegrio.com
U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden share a laugh as the US Senior Men’s National Team and Brazil play during a pre-Olympic exhibition basketball game at the Verizon Center on July 16, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

“It would be a shame to do it and have only six or seven people there,” said a source to NBC News.

“As COVID restrictions continue to be lifted and we slowly reopen the White House for social activities, we will continue to work through these types of issues,” said a White House official.

When President Obama was in office, he hosted a ceremony for the unveiling of former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush‘s portraits. Bush did the same for President Bill Clinton and former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Allegedly, the Trump administration moved the portraits of Bush and Clinton from their usual place on the state floor, near the Grand Foyer, to a less visible location. Biden has decided to put them back in their appropriate location.

Trump reportedly chose not to unveil his predecessors’ portrait due to tensions between the one-term president and Obama.

Celebrating America Primetime Special
UNSPECIFIED – JANUARY 20: In this screengrab, (L-R) Former presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and George W. Bush speak during the Celebrating America Primetime Special on January 20, 2021. The livestream event hosted by Tom Hanks features remarks by president-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris and performances representing diverse American talent. (Photo by Handout/Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images )

Currently, Trump is going through the process of having his portrait completed, but he will most likely not participate in every part of the tradition. Trump has previously accused Biden of not winning the 2020 presidential election fairly.

The former president and his wife, Melania, have begun discussing their portraits with the White House Historical Association, which is responsible for commissioning the portraits. The process could take up to four years.

In 2018, the National Portrait Gallery unveiled images of the Obamas. The images are the only collection of presidents portraits, outside the White House, created by Black artists. Artist Amy Sherald completed the former first lady’s painting, while artist Kehinde Wiley created Mr. Obama’s.

As reported by theGrio, digital versions of the official portraits of the Obamas were recently projected onto Chicago’s Merchandise Mart this month. They will continue every night through September as part of a national tour. 

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., organized a five-city tour that begins June 18 at the Art Institute in Chicago, where the portraits will be displayed for about two months, until Aug. 15, before heading to other cities, PEOPLE reports. 

The Art Institute of Chicago is also where Barack and Michelle went on their first date.

Barack Michelle Obama theGrio.com
(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

According to the report, the digital versions will light up the Merchandise Mart building through Sept. 16 from 9 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., with a musical score accompanying the works.

“It’s now almost mythical that the president and the first lady had their first date here,” Art Institute director James Rondeau said. “President Obama, the first Black president. Michelle Obama, the first Black first lady. Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, the first Black artists chosen to represent the official portraits for the National Portrait Gallery.”

Additional reporting by theGrio’s Ny Magee  

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