History of Art


Edward McDonald-Toone


I graduated from the University of Melbourne, Australia, with a BA Degree and Honours in Art History in 2004. After working in museums in Australia and the UK, I began my PhD at UCL under the supervision initially of Dr TJ Demos, and latterly Professor Tamar Garb. I am now in the final stages of completing my research.


Curating the 'Middle East': Exhibitions and the reception of contemporary art from the Arab world and beyond.

My research sits at the intersection of the geopolitics of art and visual cultures and the history of exhibitions. My thesis focuses on recent exhibitions of contemporary - and occasionally modern - art from the Arab world, Iran, Turkey and beyond. Artistic production from this ambiguously constructed "region" has been increasingly visible within the circuits of contemporary art in the last two decades, at a time when infrastructures and discourses of art and globalisation have been ever more entangled. Exhibitions using geography as curatorial leitmotif have been important fields for this visibility, based on the mobilisation of particular, but often problematically reductive, notions of place and cultural identity in relation to the Arab world or the so-called 'Middle East' and countries and places within them. Through a series of case studies, I aim to consider the aesthetic and ethical implications of trying to define and give meaning to place according to the logics of the exhibitionary form as a powerful (even hegemonic) structure which produces meaning around art and visual culture.


Darat al Funun Dissertation Fellowship, 2015

Rae & Edith Bennett Travelling Scholarship (awarded by the University of Melbourne for graduate research in the UK), 2010-14.

JG Wilson Scholarship & the Dwight Final Assessment Prize for Art History, University of Melbourne, 2004.


"Exhibiting Arab modern art in Iran is about more than just diplomacy", The Conversation, 25 November 2016 (also published by The Independent, 30 November 2016)

"The Exhibition and the Agora: Contemporary Arab Representations 2001-07", in Omar Kholeif (ed), Imperfect Chronology: Arab Art from the Modern to the Contemporary: Works from the Barjeel Art Collection, London: Prestel/Whitechapel Gallery, 2015.

"Cairo. Open City" - Review, Object (14), 2014.


Presentation as part of 'Imperfect Chronologies' symposium, Whitechapel Gallery, London, October 2015.

Exhibitions, Contemporary Art, History & the re-presentation of the Arab World, Darat al Funun, Amman, Jordan, July 2015.

Arab Identity and the Exhibition, lecture presented as part of Introduction to Global Art: Middle East and North Africa course, Whitechapel Gallery, London, February 2015.

Staging Revolutions, Cities and Media: "Cairo. Open City", New Media and Conflict in the Middle East: A Research Workshop, Centre for the Study of Contemporary Art, University College London, December 2014.

Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art 2010-11: on three inaugural exhibition and the stakes of institution building, lecture for Curating Contemporary Art Module, MA in Museum and Gallery Practice, UCL Qatar, Doha, March 2014.

The Exhibition as Agora - "Contemporary Arab Representations: The Iraqi Equation", History of Art Postgraduate Seminar, University College London, February 2012.


Since 2013 I have taught in the Politics department at Goldsmiths, University of London, where I am the tutor for a first year course Politics/International Studies/Sociology course, 'The Politics of Other Cultures'.

Research Interests

The history and practices of museums, exhibition forms and curatorship; the politics of artistic and cultural production in relation to postcolonialism and globalisation; modern and contemporary art in and from the "Middle East"/the Arab World/West Asia/North Africa.