We might as well call it: 2019 is the year of Beyoncé. She’s racked up six Emmy nominations for her Netflix Homecoming special. She created a beloved anthem for brown skin girls everywhere. And she delivered several major fashion moments during her closely watched press tour for The Lion King.
But Queen Bey is never not making history. Case in point: The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery recently announced it has acquired a portrait of the superstar that will be added to its permanent collection. The image is from her eight-page September 2018 Vogue editorial, shot by photographer Tyler Mitchell. Beyoncé personally selected Mitchell — who was 23 years old at the time — for the project, making him the first Black photographer to ever shoot a cover for Vogue.
“Until there is a mosaic of perspectives coming from different ethnicities behind the lens, we will continue to have a narrow approach and view of what the world actually looks like,” Bey wrote in the issue. “It’s important to me that I help open doors for younger artists.”
Although the selected photograph was not used as one of the magazine’s two covers, it’s a stunning piece of art that features Beyoncé in an effortlessly styled ensemble: a metallic sequin Valentino dress and a gold Philip Treacy headpiece.
Mitchell shared the big news on social media, recounting how his life has changed in a year’s time.
“A year ago today we broke the flood gates open,” Mitchell wrote. “Since then it was important to spend the whole year running through them making sure every piece of the gate was knocked down. And now I’m glad to share this picture is being acquired into the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection.”
On Twitter, the gallery elaborated on the acquisition’s significance: “Our mission is to tell the story of America by portraying the people who shape this nation's history, development, and culture. We are happy to work with Tyler to acquire his photograph of Beyoncé Knowles into the Portrait Gallery’s collection.”
There’s no official word yet on when the portrait will be available for public viewing, but in the meantime, visitors can see another image of Bey in its current “20th Century Americans” exhibition.