Thousands of Obama Portraits to Come Down Friday

Official portrait hangs in federal buildings all across the country

While the eyes of the world are watching the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. on Friday, the transition of power will include a largely-unseen tradition in cities across the country.

There is at least one framed photograph of President Barack Obama, as well as Vice President Joe Biden, hung prominently near the entryway of each of the 810 federal building in the United States.

The second term of President Obama officially ends at 11 a.m. Friday, according to a statement from the General Services Administration.

“At that time, the portraits of President Obama and Vice President Biden are to be removed and picture frames preserved for future use,” the statement read.

Beyond the official statement, no government representative was made available to speak on the practice of swapping out the President’s portrait.

Instead, NBC 5 went to two sources who are familiar with the significance of putting the best face forward.

“First impressions are everything, for sure,” said Stephanie Campos, a self-described “social media influencer and digital marketing consultant,” whose social media presence as "Ms. Dallas Maven" is widely followed by tens of thousands of followers. “The profile picture is something, the first thing that somebody sees. It defines what you want to tell somebody that you are.”

In Far North Dallas, the Smith family has been designing custom frames at the FrameSmith since 1983. In their shop right now they have a framed oil painting of Ronald Reagan on his ranch, cowboy hat atop his head and his arm perched on a rustic fence.

"We made him just the kind of man he was: tough," co-owner Cindy Smith said. "We put a little metal in there with the rivets."

Smith said America has always put added significance on the portraits of its presidents, since First Lady Dolley Madison saved the portrait of George Washington from being destroyed by British troops in 1814.

"[The portrait] communicates the essence of America. That we are a peaceful and transitional government," she said. "And so when we look at our leaders we don't see them as individuals. Hopefully we see them as icons, as representatives of the people."

Once the thousands of photographs of President Obama come down Friday, it will be several weeks before they are replaced with President Trump.

"The portraits of President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence will be installed as soon as they are available from the Government Printing Office, which should be in late February or early March," said the GSA in its official statement.

As for the future of all those Obama photographs? The GSA would not specify, but in a statement to the Washington Post in 2009, soon after Barack Obama's first inauguration, an official indicated that the outgoing photos of President George W. Bush should be "removed and respectfully disposed of."

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