This article examines the program of bringing itinerant art museums to the rural areas implemented by the Misiones Pedagógicas of Spain’s Second Republic. My analysis seeks to answer the following questions: a) Why did the government support these initiatives while peasants were using violence to contest its agrarian reform? b) How did museums fit into the Republic’s program of public education? And 3) how did they treat the peasants' own culture? Tracing the philosophical foundations of the Museo del Pueblo in Manuel Bartolomé de Cosso's (1857–1935) theory of leisure, I discuss Cosso's indebtedness to late-Victorian uses of art education for the poor and to krausista philosophy. I argue that the Museo del Pueblo’s and the Misiones' emphasis on raising the spirit of citizenship by reorganizing peasants' free time constituted an experiment in liberal governance that responded to the urgent political need to implement a democratic policy for ruling the masses.