Transcript for The Obamas' official portraits on nationwide tour
Former president Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, well, they might be coming to a town near you. Well, their portraits anyway. Their official portraits have left the smithsonian for a nationwide tour, first stop their hometown, and WLS reporter Jesse kirsch has the exclusive first look. Reporter: Right now, the Obamas visiting hometown Chicago, that is, their official portraits are. The paintings already drawing huge crowds in Washington, D.C., and now the smithsonian national portrait gallery sending them on a cross-country tour. First stop the iconic art institute of Chicago with ABC getting the exclusive first look as the portraits rolled into town. This is a Chicago story. Reporter: Museum director James rondo taking us through some of the exhibition. The windy city, front and center. I think so much of the story of Barack and Michelle Obama in Chicago is here. Reporter: Visitors see where the former first couple lived and worked inside the museum where their love story flourished. President Obama, the first black president, Michelle Obama, the first black first lady, came to wily, and the first black artist chosen to represent the official portraits for the national portrait gallery. The portraits side by side since the unveiling in 2018. All of the mystique of power and celebrity is there but also they're incredibly accessible. Reporter: And now even more truth with visits also planned in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Houston. We want to share the collections with communities who are outside of Washington, with young people who are studying history, and are learning about the power of the presidency. Reporter: Odds are you'll need to get in line for a closeup look at the Obama portraits but even if you don't want to wait, you can still catch a glimpse from out there. Looking through the windows of the art institute's main halls may satisfy some, but others will surely want to get much closer. It will be a very visible high energy, I hope a popular way to kind of re-establish the notion of a visit to the art museum, as something popular, safe, secure. And joining us now, look who we have, Jesse kirsch from the art institute of Chicago, thanks for being here. And what kind of turnout? What are they expecting in terms of buzz and people coming out to the museum to see these? Good afternoon, T.J. Thanks for having me with you. They are expecting a lot of people here at the art institute of Chicago. Thousands each day. The national portrait gallery says when these paintings debuted in 2018, over the next year, they saw about a million more people coming through the smithsonian lines wrapped around the building. Here in Chicago, the first seven days are free for Illinois residents, but all of those tickets already sold out. But, I'll see if I can find one for you and Amy if you want to come through, the exhibition starts right here in Chicago. Don't use my name. Use hers. My name won't get you anywhere. Jesse kirsch of WLS in Chicago, thank you so much.
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