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Most museums across the city have been battered by the economic downturn, as corporations and wealthy donors have cut back on charitable contributions and attendance has declined. One way to make up the difference: Invite people to sleep over at the museum and charge them a good deal for the privilege.

The Guggenheim, which cut eight percent of its staff at the start of the summer, set up an art exhibit last fall that doubled as an actual hotel room and charged people $259 a night to stay over in the famous Frank Lloyd Wright structure. The Bronx Zoo has been offering "overnight safaris" since February (for $140 per person); and the Long Island Aquarium started up its own overnight program this spring (and, at $60 per person, the cheapest of the lot).

The American Museum of Natural History, which had lost a quarter of its endowment by early 2009 and was forced to cut 10 percent of its staff right around the same time, is now expanding its sleepover program and has set aside a dozen dates over the next few months when kids are invited to camp out for the night.

So what will your kid will get for $129? There's "a fossil fact-finding mission by flashlight" and an IMAX film, and the children are provided with an "evening snack and light breakfast." Best of all, of course, is you can get rid of your kids for the night and pass it off as an educational experience at the same time.

American Museum of Natural History 2010 sleepovers [NewYorkology]
Previously: Budget Lodging at the Guggenheim [Cityfile]