The late 1960s saw the beginning of a movement in which several generations of artists investigated and deconstructed the customs and institutions of art. Institutional critique, as it would come to be known, challenged the promises and putative neutrality of public art museums. Following several decades of criticism the question remains unanswered: can the public art museum become a democratic institution? This course explores the ongoing debates around race, ethnicity, objectivity, subjectivity and cultural authority in contemporary museology. We will begin with the Enlightenment origins of the European art museum and its deployment within the United States; we will consider the artistic interventions that exposed its biases and eurocentrism, as well as the emergence of culturally-specific arts institutions and contemporary efforts at decolonization. Relying on decolonial and ethnic studies scholars, we will develop a critical framework for understanding the historical pathways that led to the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the upcoming Latino Smithsonian Museum. We will conclude with a deep dive into a radical museum model: Noah Purifoy's "Outdoor Desert Art Museum of Assemblage Sculpture".