Dr Isobel Whitelegg

Director of Postgraduate Research

School/Department: Museum Studies, School of




Isobel Whitelegg is an an art historian and curator specialising in modern and contemporary art from Latin America (especially Brazil). and the history and historiography of contemporary art and its institutions. She completed her MA (History & Theory of Latin American Art) and her PhD at the Department of Art History, University of Essex and subsequently co-devised two AHRC funded research projects: Latin American Art in the UK and Meeting Margins Transnational Art in Europe & Latin America. Before joining Museum Studies in 2015, Isobel occupied two roles that bridged higher education and the arts sector: LJMU Research Curator and Convenor of Tate Research Centre: Curatorial Practice & Museology (2014-2015) and Head of Research & Public Programmes Nottingham Contemporary (2011-2014). 



Isobel Whitelegg's research is international in scope, but centres on Latin America, and focuses on the dynamically formed legacies of non-collecting arts institutions. A sustained focus of recent work has been collaborative research centring on the archives of Sao Paulo’s prominent international art biennial (1951-). With the support of the Arquivo Histórico Fundação Bienal de São Paulo and FAPESP, she worked with a group of Brazilian scholars to research its organisational development and artistic activities during Brazil’s military regime (1964-1985).



Isobel Whitelegg. ‘How to Talk About Biennials That Don’t Exist: Reassembling the Twelfth São Paulo Biennial (1973)’, Tate Papers, no.34, 2022

Isobel Whitelegg. 'Histories of the Present: Proposições Contemporâneas at the 14th Bienal de São Paulo’ in Paulo Miyada (Ed.) Bienal de São Paulo Desde 1951 , São Paulo: Fundacao Bienal de São Paulo, 2022

Isobel Whitelegg. The Making of Tucumán Arde (1968), 1997-2012, in Natasha Adamou and Michaela Geibelhausen (Eds.), Reconstructing Exhibitions. New York: Routledge, 2022

Isobel Whitelegg. 'São Paulo & Other Models: the Biennale in Latin America, 1951-1991' in R. Greeley, M. Sullivan (Eds.), Blackwell Reader on Modern and Contemporary Latin American & Latinx Art, London: Blackwell, 2021

Isobel Whitelegg. ‘Everything Was Connected. Kinetic Art and Internationalism at Signals London, 1964-66’ in Jo Applin, Catherine Spencer, Amy Tobin (Eds/), London Art Worlds. Pennsylvania: Penn State University Press, 2018

Isobel Whitelegg. 'The São Paulo Bienal Complex: MAM-BSP-MAC’ in Michelle Greet, Gina McDaniel Tarver (Eds.), Museums of Latin America: Structuring Representation. New York: Routledge, 2018




Caroline Fucci, Brazilian Contemporary Art in the Global Biennial Context, AHRC M4C Scholarship

Victoria Guzman, Power Struggles in the Art Museum: Authority or Authorities? AHRC M4C Scholarship (Co-supervised with Dr Alice Tilche) 

Catalina Imízcoz, Modernity and the Exhibitionary Form. AHRC M4C Scholarship

Laura Dudley, From Re-Construction to Co-Production, the authorship of participatory art exhibitions. AHRC M3C Scholarship

Eloisa Rodrigues, Mapping Brazilian Art in Public Collections Across the UK. AHRC M3C Scholarship

Yang Chen, Exhibitionary Spaces in Japanese Art, 1860s-1970s

Cher Zou, Locating the Alternative Art Institution in the Chinese Context. International Excellence Scholarship

Blanca Jové Alcalde, Creating a Politically active, Plural and Critical Public Sphere: discursive programmes at contemporary art institutions. AHRC M3C Scholarship.



MA Art Museum & Gallery Studies: MU7003 Making Art History

Press and media


Latin American and Brazilian contemporary art and art history



Academic Advisory Board, Tate Papers

Board Member, The Biennial Foundation

Board of Directors, Primary Studios, Nottingham

Editorial Committee, Selo Editorial do PPG-AC UFJF (Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora)



Worldviews Latin American Art & the Decolonial Turn. Centre for Visual Cultures University of Cambridge 2021

Sobre Artistas Instituições e Coleções: o Brasil no Campo da Arte Contemporânea. ABRE (Association of Brazilian Studies in Europe) III Congress, 2021

Biennialization & its Counter-narratives. CAA Annual Conference, Chicago, 2020

Escuela de Crítica de Arte IV: instituciones culturales en el contexto latinoamericano. Proyecto Siqueiros: La Tallera. México 2018

A exposição da arte: um debate historiográfica. Instituto de Filosofia e Ciencias Humanas, UNICAMP, Campinas, 2019

Transnational Cities: Tokyo & London. Tate Modern, London, 2017

The School of the South: Lessons in Latin American Art, Studio Voltaire, London 2015

Media coverage


Philomena Epps, 'Signals Gallery (1964-66): An Auto-Destructive Art History' (exhibition review) Frieze 197 (2018)

Isobel Harbison & Lorena Muñoz-Alonso, 'Double-take: Signals: If You Like I Shall Grow' (exhibition review) Art Agenda July 2018



Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

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