Decorating the White House with Smithsonian Art

Continuing a Washington tradition, the Obamas selected artwork from the Smithsonian collections to hang in their historic home

The tradition of Smithsonian museums loaning art to the White House began in the 1940s. (iStockphoto)


Sky Light
(Maura McCarthy)

Alma Thomas
Acrylic on canvas
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Thomas graduated from Washington D.C.’s Howard University in 1924 and taught until 1960, when she retired to focus on her art. When she began, she used larger blocks of colors, as in Watusi. Later on, she began to experiment with smaller strokes of paint. That became her signature. “There’s a kind of rhythm in all of her work,” Brougher says.


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