There are about 80 museums in New York City. Most of them are in Manhattan, and nine of those museums are located along what's called New York City Museum Mile, along Fifth Avenue.
Museum Mile begins with the New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art at Fifth Avenue and 82 St. (1000 Fifth Ave, New York City, NY, 10028) and ends with the Museum of El Barrio on Fifth Avenue and 104 Street (1230 Fifth Ave. New York, NY 10029). In between, there are the Guggenheim Museum at 89 St. (1071 Fifth Ave., New York City, NY 10128), the Cooper Hewitt Museum at 91 St. (2 E. 91 St. New York City, NY 10128), the Jewish Museum at 92 St. (1109 Fifth Ave., New York City, NY 10128), and Museum of the City of New York at 103 St.(1220 Fifth Ave, New York City, NY, 10029)
American Museum of Natural History is located right across Central Park from the Metropolitan Museum, at 79 St. and Central Park West (New York City, NY 10024). The New York Historical Society is just next door, on Central Park West at 77 St. (170 Central Park West, New York City, NY 10024)
As you see, you can do a lot of museum hopping within a very short distance, and while you're at it, don't miss the best New York museum of them all: The Frick Collection, at 1 E 70 St. between Madison and Fifth Aves. At this tiny gem of a museum, every piece is a masterpiece, and it takes only about an hour and a half to view the entire collection.
Please keep in mind as well that admission policy to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Museum of Natural History and Museum of the City of New York is "pay-what-you-wish," although American Museum of Natural History usually does charge additional fees for special exhibitions.
Other museums very often have free admission or Pay-Waht-You-Wish nights. For example, Museum of Modern Arts (MoMA) and the Whitney Museum often have free admission on Friday nights, The Jewish Museum has free admission all day Saturday, Guggenheim's Pay-What-You-Wish policy is on Saturdays from 5:45-7:45pm, and so on. So whenever you plan to visit a particular museum, it's worth giving them a call to inquire about their free admission night. Sometimes those free admission nights are mentioned on their tape recording, but rather often they are not, and so it makes sense to speak to a live person when you inquire about free admission night.
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