Skip to content

Celebrating the Impact of Michelle Obama on her 60th Birthday

Stories

January 17, 2024
Share
Michelle Obama is sitting at a wood table surrounded by young teens from the Ludzi Girls Secondary School in Malawi. In the image Michelle Obama has braids in her hair and is wearing a gray and black geometric shirt, with a series of gold bangles on her left wrist; she is smiling and clapping her hands together. Sitting on both sides of her and across from her are young teen girls. The two sitting next to her are wearing white button-down shirts. The young girl to her left is clasping his hands and smiling at her. Across from Michelle Obama are the backs of two young teen girls, who are staring at her. Both girls have closely cut hair; the boy on the left of the image is wearing a white button down shirt. The girl  on the right of the image is wearing a bright blue collared shirt.

January 17 is Michelle Obama’s birthday! From her work at the White House around health, education, and supporting military families to her continued initiatives supporting women and girls across the globe, Michelle Obama is an example of one person’s ability to inspire millions to create meaningful changes in their community.  

When we open the Obama Presidential Center next year, it will feature exhibitions, artifacts, and spaces that reflect Mrs. Obama’s legacy. In honor of her birthday, we're giving you a sneak peek into a few elements of the Presidential Center shaped by the First Lady. Take a look and get a glimpse of what’s to come.

Bringing Change Home

A rendering of the north-facing view of the Obama Presidential Center campus in Jackson Park.
“No matter what I’ve accomplished or who I’ve met, one of my greatest honors is being a proud Chicagoan – a daughter of the South Side.”
- Michelle Obama

The Obama Presidential Center, a vibrant 19 acre campus, will live in the heart of Chicago’s South Side. The Center’s location in Jackson Park reflects Mrs. Obama’s commitment to the neighborhood she calls home, and to the entire city of Chicago Opens in a new tab . Built in connection with dozens of city agencies, local groups, and community insights, the Presidential Center will serve as an opportunity for economic growth, education, and innovation for the residents of the South Side and as a beacon of democratic values around the world.

Key spaces in the Presidential Center campus will feature artists, community members, and local leaders whose stories symbolize Chicago’s endurance and strength. Woodlawn native and renowned sculptor Richard Hunt was commissioned to create ‘Book Bird’, a stunning sculpture that he completed before his recent passing, that will stand outside of the Presidential Center’s branch of the Chicago Public Library. The Presidential Center Forum will also house the Hadiya Pendleton Winter Garden, a safe space for community members, named in honor of the young Chicago teen who lost her life to gun violence in 2013.

Telling Michelle Obama’s Story
An off-white rectangular card sitting on a gray table. The off-white card is older and browning across the left side. The card is a traditional business card. On it is black text that reads, “Michelle L. Robinson, Sidley & Austin, One First National Plaza, Chicago, Illinois 60603” On the right hand side of the card, two small black boxes cover up a phone number and a fax number.

Sometimes the journey is just as important as the destination. At the Obama Presidential Center Museum, visitors will have the opportunity to explore the lives of both Barack and Michelle Obama from their humble beginnings to their time at the White House.

When the Museum opens, guests will have the opportunity to learn more about Mrs. Obama's story, exploring her early years in Chicago, her impact as First Lady, and her White House initiatives Let Girls Learn, Let's Move!, Reach Higher, and Joining Forces.

Planting the Seeds of Progress
an outdoor garden on the Obama Presidential Center campus; in the garden are long wooden planters, in each planter is a different – indiscernible – vegetable. Around the garden, people are walking around: in the center is a woman holding the hand of a small child. On the right hand side, an elderly man in a wheelchaired is being wheeled around by a younger woman.

A rendering of the Eleanor Roosevelt Fruit & Vegetable Garden, which will be located on the roof of the Library.

One of the hallmarks of Mrs. Obama’s legacy is her commitment to the health and wellness of our young people, including the planting of the White House Kitchen Garden. We will honor and expand that commitment at the Obama Presidential Center with the creation of the Eleanor Roosevelt Fruit & Vegetable Garden

The Fruit & Vegetable Garden will carry on the legacy of two extraordinary first ladies, featuring a garden accessible for visitors of all ages and abilities, and a Garden Classroom & Teaching Kitchen for hands-on learning and workshops. This unique space will serve as a warm and welcoming environment to support programs around local sustainability, economic growth, and physical health.

Wellness in our Communities
The picture is outside on the lawn of the White House. In the background is the White House. It is sunny outside. Michelle Obama stands in the center of the image, she is smiling with her arms in the air and she is creating a peace sign on both of her hands. She is wearing a dark green jacket, a white shirt and dark pants. Surrounding her are eight children in various stages of movement. The children are all of different races. The children are all wearing blue t-shirts with long sleeved red shirts underneath. On the blue shirts are white text that reads, “Let’s Move!” Around the children are four dogs.

While serving in the White House, Mrs. Obama launched her first initiative, Let’s Move!, a public campaign that addressed childhood obesity with purposeful action and education for kids and teens. In keeping with this commitment, the Presidential Center campus will include a one-of-a-kind Programs & Athletics Center that will feature a state of the art gymnasium, community programming, and a NBA-regulation basketball court.

“Opening the White House”
A rendering of an exhibit in the Obama Presidential Center Museum.

Throughout the years, Mrs. Obama has cited many women as sources of inspiration for her work and success, but none stand as large as her mother, Marian Robinson.

In a very special tribute to Mrs. Robinson Opens in a new tab , a permanent exhibit at the Obama Presidential Center Museum will be named after the First Lady’s mother. The exhibit “Opening the White House” will feature miniature models of some of the most seminal spaces in the White House, including the East Room, the State Dining Room, and the South Lawn. Visitors will be able to relive [see] some of the memorable moments in the White House created by Mrs. Obama, including State Dinners, unique musical performances, and special holiday celebrations.

“It’ll [the exhibit] be infused with so many of the values that my mother instilled in me: community, family, bringing people in—making them feel at home.”
- Michelle Obama
A Cultural Standard-Bearer
Michelle Obama is standing in an industrial kitchen next to Sesame Street character, Big Bird. Michelle Obama is wearing an orange cardigan and shirt with black pants. She is smiling at Big Bird. Big Bird is a large 7 foot tall yellow puppet bird. In the kitchen around Michelle Obama and Big Bird are hanging pots and pans, an industrial oven and stove top, and a wooden handled fruit basket with a red pepper, an orange pepper, and an orange.

An important hallmark of the Obamas’ time in the White House was connecting with Americans through popular culture. While serving as First Lady, Mrs. Obama made a conscious effort to engage with the public through television, music, fashion, and literature. As a first First Lady in the digital age, Mrs. Obama pioneered new ways to communicate and promote her initiatives.

 When the Presidential Center opens, visitors will have the opportunity to explore artifacts and details on Mrs. Obama’s impact on popular culture including some of her iconic outfits, her most creative viral moments, and her work with notable entertainment figures to support initiatives like Let Girls Learn and Let’s Move!

Michelle Obama is sitting at a wood table surrounded by young teens from the Ludzi Girls Secondary School in Malawi. In the image Michelle Obama has braids in her hair and is wearing a gray and black geometric shirt, with a series of gold bangles on her left wrist; she is smiling and clapping her hands together. Sitting on both sides of her and across from her are young teen girls. The two sitting next to her are wearing white button-down shirts. The young girl to her left is clasping his hands and smiling at her. Across from Michelle Obama are the backs of two young teen girls, who are staring at her. Both girls have closely cut hair; the boy on the left of the image is wearing a white button down shirt. The girl  on the right of the image is wearing a bright blue collared shirt.

Your support turns hope into action. Donate to the Barack Obama Foundation.

The Barack Obama Foundation is registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization (EIN 46-4950751).

Read More