President Obama and his family took their first excursion Wednesday night into the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture, for a private tour lasting about 80 minutes.
It’s not known which exhibits they lingered over — but it’s likely they saw a few things that hit close to home.
As the first black president, Obama is amply represented through the museum’s exhibits and galleries. There are buttons and signs from his campaign, and a program from an inaugural ball. There is also a black dress with red roses, made by African American designer Tracy Reese, that Michelle Obama wore during the 50th anniversary ceremony commemorating the March on Washington.
Elsewhere in the museum there is a photo of the awkward “beer summit” that the president convened after the racially-charged incident in which a Cambridge, Mass., police officer arrested Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. for seemingly breaking into a house that turned out to be his own. And in the museum’s pop-culture-heavy fourth floor, Obama earns a spot (alongside the likes of “Real Housewives’s” Nene Leakes) in a section documenting gestures and body language that are considered classically African American — notably, the moment on a 2008 campaign stage when he and Michelle gave each other a fist bump.
And their current abode is represented as well — in an exhibit on slavery, which documents the role of enslaved men and women who worked in the White House.
On Wednesday night, the Obamas had the place all to themselves. Neither the White House nor the museum had any immediate comment about their reactions to the galleries or seeing themselves in the exhibitions, though in a visit of less than two hours there is surely a lot that they did not see.
The president will speak at the museum’s opening ceremony next week and White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday that both he and the first lady are “quite enthusiastic” about it.