Masking Faces: The Many Meanings of Face Coverings

MA students invite you to view their online exhibition exploring the use of the face covering in a variety of forms, throughout history to the present day.

In collaboration with the Yale Center for British Art and the Smithsonian, the exhibition features artworks, photographs and historical documents depicting face coverings, in particular masks, categorised into four themes of wear: Theatre and Spectacle; Masquerades and Balls; The Grotesque; and Religion.

The works on show span centuries – from paintings of the 1700s, to contemporary photographs taken in recent years.

Whilst viewing the exhibition, the students ask visitors to consider their own experiences of wearing masks during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Perhaps their response to wearing a mask been shaped by their historical understanding of its uses, or have other factors come into play?

Visit the online exhibition

Access the exhibition.

Masking Faces: The Many Meanings of Face Coverings is part of a wider series of exhibitions and projects undertaken by MA students from the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies as part of an Interpretations course module.


Detail from Children Playing with a Mask, Yale Center for British Art.