President Biden will welcome former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama back to the White House in September for the unveiling of their official portraits, NBC News reported Thursday.
The Sept. 7 event will mark the first time in a decade that White House portraits of a former president and first lady are revealed. Obama presided over the most recent ceremony, which honored former President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush in 2012.
The tradition was put on hold due to the bitter relationship between Obama and his successor, Donald Trump. The COVID-19 pandemic further delayed the ceremony after Biden succeeded Trump in January 2021.
According to NBC, the ceremony will mark the first time Michelle Obama has been back at the White House since she left it on the day of Trump’s swearing-in on Jan. 20, 2017.
Barack Obama attended a White House ceremony in April of this year to mark the signing of the Affordable Care Act into law 12 years earlier.
The portraits are arranged by the privately funded White House Historical Association, which negotiates a contract with the first couple’s chosen artist that includes confidentiality clauses keeping the artist’s name and details of the work a secret until the unveiling.
“It’s a special moment. These are things that become a part of the White House for years and years and years to come,” Association President Stewart McLaurin told NBC. “This is an old and customary tradition, but it’s important in White House history to maintain this.”
Portraits of America’s presidents also hang in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, not far from the White House. Depictions of the Obamas were unveiled there in 2018.
McLaurin added to NBC that the process of creating portraits of Trump and his wife Melania was “in the initial stages.”
“They are aware of the process, and the process is underway,” he said.