Dr Isobel Whitelegg

Director of Postgraduate Research

School/Department: Museum Studies, School of



I completed my 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 research projects: Latin American Art in the UK and Meeting Margins Transnational Art in Europe & Latin America. Before joining Museum Studies in 2015 I was Tate LJMU Research Curator and Head of Research & Public Programmes Nottingham Contemporary. I am 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.


My research is international in scope but centres on Latin America she focuses on the dynamically formed legacies of non-collecting arts institutions - a category largely excluded from Museum Studies.I am interested in the contingency between contemporary art and the shifting organisational forms that support define and validate it. A sustained focus of my recent research has been collaborative work 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 I worked with a group of Brazilian scholars to research a key episode of its history - its organisational development and artistic activities during Brazil’s tmilitary 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. Greele, 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



  • Blanca Jové Alcalde. Creating a Politically active, Plural and Critical Public Sphere: discursive programmes at contemporary art institutions. AHRC M4C Scholarship. 2021 (completed)
  • Laura Dudley, From Re-Construction to Co-Production, the authorship of participatory art exhibitions. AHRC M4C Scholarship. 2018-2022.
  • Eloisa Rodrigues, Mapping Brazilian Art in Public Collections Across the UK. AHRC M4C Scholarship. 2018-2022.
  • Cher Zou, Locating the Alternative Art Institution in the Chinese Context. International Excellence Scholarship. 2017-2022
  • Eleni Ganati, Defining the Museum of Contemporary Art, 2017-2023
  • Catalina Imizcoz, Modernity and the Exhibitionary Form. AHRC M4C Scholarship. 2020-2024
  • Caroline Fucci, Brazilian Contemporary Art in the Global Biennial Context, AHRC M4C Scholarship. 2022-2026


MA Art Museum & Gallery Studies MU7003 Making Art History

Press and media

Latin American and Brazilian contemporary art and art history (post-1945)


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

New Worlds: Frontiers Inclusion Utopias, UFRJ, Rio de Janeiro, 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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