Dr Isobel Whitelegg

Associate Professor

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).



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

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

Eleni Ganiti. Permanent Collecting and the Museum of Contemporary Art


Blanca Jové Alcalde. Creating a Politically active, Plural and Critical Public Sphere: discursive programmes at contemporary art institutions. 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: Models, Terminologies and Territories

Laura Dudley. From Re-Construction to Co-Production: remembering and restaging past participatory exhibitions. AHRC M3C Scholarship


MA Art Museum & Gallery Studies: MU7003 Making Art History

Press and media


 Contemporary art institutions. Latin American Art. Brazilian Art. 



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)


2022.‘Medalla/Metzger’, Strange Universe: Explorations of the Modern in Post-war Britain 1945-1965, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, Barbican, London

2021. (Convenor) ‘Meeting Margins Revisited’ Worldviews: Latin American Art & the Decolonial Turn, University of Cambridge/ UAL (online)

2020. ‘Curating Signals London’ Bellas Artes Projects, Manila, Philippines (online)

2020. (Co-convenor), Biennialisation and its Counter narratives, CAA Annual Conference, Chicago

2019. Exhibition History and Institutional Context, University of São Paulo Museum of Contemporary Art

2018. (Participant), Rethinking Research in the Art Museum, Tate Britain, London

2018. (Invited Faculty), La Escuela de Critica de Arte, Proyeto Siqueros, Cuernavaca, Mexico

2017. (Participant), Black Artists and Modernism (BAM) Study Day,  InIVA, London

2017. ‘The Internationalism of Signals London’ Transnational Cities: Tokyo and London, Tate Modern, London

2017. The Biennial Model in Latin America’, Semana de Arte, São Paulo

2017. Rehabilitating the Biennial’, University of Porto

2016. ‘Provincialising Critique, Artist & Institution in 1970s São Paulo’, MUAC, Mexico City

2015 (Convenor), School of the South: Lessons in Latin American Art, Studio Voltaire, London

2014. ‘At the Crux of the Post war, Collective Exhibitions at Signals London, 1964-66’, Post war: Between the Atlantic and the Pacific, Haus der Kunst, Munich

2013. ‘Everything was connected’, London Art Worlds: Mobile, Contingent and Ephemeral Networks, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art / Centre for Modern Studies, University of York

2012. ‘Inventing Latin America, Between Theory and Practice’, Rethinking Latin American Art in the 21st Century. Getty Research Institute/Museo de Arte de Lima

 2012. Keywords: Out (with Suely Rolnik), InIVA, London 

2010. Keywords: Absolutely Postcolonial (with Peter Hallward), InIVA, London 

2010. Aleijadinho, Michelangelo Brasileiro: Racial Democracy & Other Brazilian Modernist Myths', CGAC, Santiago de Compostela

2009. (Co-convenor) Transnational Latin American Art from 1950 to the Present, First International Research Forum for Graduate Students and Emerging Scholars, University of Texas at Austin

2008. A Bienal Não Vista da Fora, Fundação Bienal de São Paulo, 28 Bienal Internacional de São Paulo



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 / e-flux July 2018






Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

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