Borrowing from the title and some of the content of Karl Popper's The Open Society and its Enemies (1945), it is argued that museums have great value as sites for what may be called a philosophical culture. A philosophical culture is one in which members or citizens engage in (ideally) fair-minded debate and shared reflection, presenting and evaluating reasons for different positions particularly as these have relevance for matters of governance. In a philosophical culture, persuasion is almost always a matter of seeking to provide reasonable grounds for adopting some position without resorting to violence or physical force (though, of course, force may be necessary to constrain those who themselves resort to violence).
A philosophical culture is, in turn, an important foundation for a democratic culture and republic. A philosophy of museums emerges, a model we shall call the Philosophical Culture Museum Model. This concept is stipulative and ideal in the sense that it presents a paradigm of a museum with great virtue and promise. It must be confessed, however, that, historically, this is an emerging concept of the role of museums and one not evident in many of the museums in the early modern era or today. Reasons are offered as to why the time may be right to recognize the philosophy of museums as a particular sub-field in the overall practice of philosophy.