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Claudia Di Tosto

Cultural and Museum Studies, University of Warwick

Thesis title:

From Empire to Commonwealth: Britain at the Venice Biennale, 1948 – present

The research project explores the recent history of the British Pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale through the lenses of global and national art histories, exhibition history and postcolonial theory. Uniquely amongst global mega-exhibitions, the Venice Biennale, with its national pavilions, offers an insight not only into how nations represent themselves through art at specific historical moments, but also into how cultural productions respond to shifting global relationships and configurations. Following a hiatus during the second world war, the Biennale resumed in 1948 against the political backdrop of a drastically transformed Europe, and of rapid, ongoing decolonisation. Drawing out the complexities of Britain’s imperial legacies and their cultural manifestations, the project will explore the Pavilion as a site of national self-definition (and redefinition), and also as a space which, within Venice’s exhibition ecosystem, operates in dialogue with new artistic voices from Commonwealth nations. As Britain, post-Brexit, once again reconfigures its global position (and its relationship with the Commonwealth), the project will offer a timely reconsideration of the Pavilion’s articulations of Britishness in both its inward and outward-looking forms.

This is a CDA co-designed by the University of Warwick and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.

Research Area

  • Cultural and Museum Studies
  • Museum and Gallery Studies


  • Di Tosto, Claudia, 'Arte Contemporanea Africana: gli artisti' in Ex Africa. Storie e identità di un’arte universale (exhibition catalogue, Museo Civico Archeologico, Bologna, 29 March - 8 September 2019), eds Gigi Pezzoli and Ezio Bassani (Milan: Skira, 2019), p. 344.
  • Di Tosto, Claudia, 'Gli artisti del nostro tempo' in Esposizione Triennale di Arti Visive a Roma 2014. Tiltestetica, (exhibition catalogue, University of Rome 'La Sapienza' - Facoltà di ingegneria civile e industriale, Rome, 6-13 June 2014), ed. Daniele Radini Tedeschi (Milan: Editoriale Giorgio Mondadori, 2014), pp. 351 - 359.


  • ‘Postcolonial Theory and Exhibition Histories: the Example of the British Pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale’ - Department of Anthropology PhD-led Seminar, University ‘La Sapienza’, Rome, April 2022
  • ‘Austerity and Muddled Optimism’: the Impact of Decolonisation on Britain’s Participation at the 1948 Venice Biennale’ - ‘Culture, Things, and Empire’ Virtual Seminar Series, online, May 2022
  • ‘The British Pavilion at the 1948 Venice Biennale: National Self-Definition and the International Image of Britain’ - Visual Intersections Summer School VI, Centre for Visual Arts and Culture, Durham University, Durham, June 2022
  • ‘Britain at the 1948 Venice Biennale‘ - ‘Re-Considering British Art History: The ECRN and DRN Summer Symposium’, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London, June 2022
  • ‘Austerity and Muddled Optimism’: the Impact of Decolonisation on Britain’s Participation at the 1948 Venice Biennale’ - Global Dis:connect Summer School, Käte Hamburger Research Centre, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Munich, August 2022
  • ‘The Uneasy Rhythm of the Post-war: the 1956 British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale’ – PGR Welcome Event, University of Warwick, Sept 2022
  • ‘The Uneasy Rhythm of the Post-war: the 1956 British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale’ (extended paper) –
    Cultural History Workshop | Faculty of History University of Cambridge, Jan 2023
  • 'Exhibiting the Nation: the British Pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale' - Association for Art History 2023 Annual Conference, Panel: 'Art, Empire and Nation', UCL, London, April 2023
  • 'Exhibiting the Nation: the British Pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale' - Global Making: People, Materials, Environments, PhD Joint Research Day | Università Ca’Foscari/University of Warwick, June 2023
  • 'Between Format, Space, and Content: the Meaning-Making Process of the British Pavilion' - M4C Research Festival 2023, Austin Court, Birmingham, October 2023

Public Engagement & Impact

  • Co-organiser of National Identity and Exhibition Histories: from fin-de-siècle world’s fairs to contemporary art biennials, M4C-funded Online Symposium (14 January 2023).

Other Research Interests

  • Exhibition Studies
  • Biennials Studies
  • Global art history
  • Queer art and theory
  • Feminist art and theory
  • Activist practices within art institutions
  • Postcolonial approaches to Art History
  • LGBTQ+ History


  • ICOM UK: January 2022 - present
  • Doctoral Researchers Network (DRN) at The Paul Mellon Centre: October 2021 - present
  • British Art Network: June 2021 - Present

Academic Qualifications

  • Second-level Master in Standards for Museum Education, University of Rome 'Roma Tre', Italy (2019)
  • MA in Museum Studies, University of Leicester (2017)
  • MA in History of Art, University of Rome 'La Sapienza', Italy (2015)
  • BA in Cultural Heritage Studies, University of Rome 'Tor Vergata', Italy (2012)

Selected Professional Training

  • Introduction to Oral History, National Life Stories at the British Library & Oral History Society (September 2022)
  • Digital Humanities for Postgraduate Researchers, University of Warwick (January - July 2022)
  • Permeable Exhibitions: Models against the tide of Western Museums (online course), Zurich University of the Arts (May - June 2022)
  • Cruising Curating: Notes on a Promiscuous Methodology for the Curatorial (online course), Zurich University of the Arts (April - May 2022) 
  • Decolonising the Archive (Webinar), University of the Arts London (May 2022)
  • Master Class on Integrative Security, Emergency and Disaster Management in Museums, ICOM – International Council of Museums (10-11 November 2020)
  • IMMA Summer School 2020: Art and Politics #2 Statecraft, IMMA - Irish Museum of Modern Art (3 - 28 August 2020)
  • MICART - Management Strategies for the Creative Industry and Contemporary Arts (Training course), MAXXI Foundation, SKY Italy, University of Rome Tor Vergata (May - October 2015)

Professional Experience

  • Senior Graduate Teaching Assistant for the 'Exhibiting the Contemporary' BA and MA modules in Venice, University of Warwick (Oct 2022 - present)
  • Co-Convenor of the Doctoral Researchers Network (DRN), Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art (August 2022 - present)
  • Assistant Curator: Collections, IMMA - Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (February - September 2021)
  • Exhibitions Assistant, Victoria and Albert Museum, London (August 2019 - December 2020)
  • Collaborator, Vatican Museums - Modern and Contemporary Art Department (July 2018 - July 2019)
  • Assistant Registrar (paid internship), MAXXI - National Museum of XXI Century Arts, Rome (November 2017 - April 2018)
  • Curatorial Assistant (student placement), Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (July 2017 - September 2017)


  • Mentor, Arts Emergency (2022 - present)
  • Volunteer Family Host, Tate Liverpool (2017)
  • Arts & Museums Service Volunteer, Leicester City Council (2017)


  • Torno subito, Regione Lazio - Department of Education, Research, School Education and Universities (2016): a funding programme for projects structured in two phases:

1. a pathway of study or a work experience outside the Lazio region, in Italy or abroad;

2. a second phase dedicated to redeploy the skills and knowledge acquired in the previous phase, within Lazio by a work experience, start–up project or research activity.

  • Wanted the best, University of Rome 'La Sapienza' (2013): awarded to BA graduates with the highest mark enrolling in an MA at La Sapienza from other Italian universities.