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Smithsonian moves Michelle Obama portrait due to 'high volume of visitors'

Michelle Obama was so popular she needed more space.The distinctive Amy Sherald painting of the former first l...

Posted: Mar 20, 2018 5:09 PM
Updated: Mar 20, 2018 5:09 PM

Michelle Obama was so popular she needed more space.

The distinctive Amy Sherald painting of the former first lady, unveiled at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery last month, has relocated to a different part of the museum due to demand.

"We're always changing things up here. Due to the high volume of visitors, we've relocated Michelle Obama's portrait to the 3rd floor in our 20th-Century Americans galleries for a more spacious viewing experience," the National Portrait Gallery tweeted.

The museum has been inundated with visitors since the portraits of the Obamas were unveiled; 176,700 people visited the gallery in February 2018, its biggest month in three years, per Smithsonian Institution data. Last weekend, nearly 45,000 visitors stopped by from Thursday to Sunday.

The Baltimore-based Sherald is an African-American artist known for her unique style, and her portraits tend to underscore themes of social justice. She often paints black skin tones in gray as a way to take away the assigned "color" of her subjects.

Earlier this month, an image of two-year-old Parker Curry staring at the portrait went viral.

"Parker was in front on the portrait, and I really wanted her to turn around so I could get a picture with her, and she genuinely, honestly, would not turn around," her mother, Jessica Curry, told CNN at the time. "As a female and as a girl of color, It's really important that I show her people who look like her that are doing amazing things and are making history so that she knows she can do it."

The photo captured the attention of the former first lady, who invited the Currys to her Washington office for a dance party.

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