Breonna Taylor’s Portrait Featured In New National Museum Exhibit


Photo: Getty Images

A portrait of Breonna Taylor is now housed at the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, D.C. 

The portrait was created by artist Amy Sherald, who painted former First Lady Michelle Obama’s portrait for the National Portrait Gallery in 2018. 

Taylor’s portrait is housed on the fourth floor in a darkened gallery area, the only artwork in the space. The portrait features the 26-year-old who was shot and killed in her Louisville, Kentucky home on March 13, 2020 by police in a botched raid. Her death sparked national outcry against police brutality, and highlighted the too-familiar heartbreaking reality of police-involved killings of Black women

Taylor is painted wearing an ethereal flowing turquoise dress, and the engagement ring, her partner Kenneth Walker never got a chance to put on her left ring finger.

The painting is co-owned by the NMAAHC and the Speed Museum in Louisville where it was on view back in April. The portrait will remain in DC until May as part of the museum’s new exhibition entitled “Reckoning: Protest. Defiance. Resilience,” opening Friday (September 10). The exhibition comes as the national museum marks its five year anniversary. 

“I think it is a really important moment,” museum director Kevin Young told The Washington Post. “Our fifth anniversary is a chance to look back, look ahead and look around, a chance to honor the moment we are in.” 

“We are in a renaissance of Black culture and art, and much of the art is commenting on this moment,” Young continued. 

Across from Taylor’s portrait, seen through a door of an adjacent gallery is Bisa Butler’s 2021 piece entitled “I Go to Prepare a Place for You,” a textile portrait of Harriet Tubman

“Both Harriet Tubman and Breonna Taylor are faces of movements,” Tuliza Fleming, curator of American art and interim chief curator of visual arts, told The Post. The placement of the artworks is intentional in order “to really bring up the importance of women in the movement. Sometimes, when you are dealing with social justice issues, women get lost in that,” Fleming said.

For more information on the exhibit, visit www.nmaahc.si.edu. Check out The Washington Post's full review of the exhibition here.

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