PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art is the only national museum that focuses on the visual arts of the African continent. Representatives from the museum spent several days in Philadelphia, as just one effort to partner with local museums.

About two dozen artists, dressed in colorful print costumes, performed African dance routines to rolling Congo beats at the Pennsylvania Convention Center earlier this week.

They jumped and sang to welcome Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.

“Here we are in Philadelphia, reaching out, opening our arms to other museums to say what is it that we can do so much better together,” said Dr. Cole.

Dr. Cole says the National Museum is forging partnerships with the African American Museum of Philadelphia and Penn’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

“I know it will be something that accents the missions of both institutions. The fact that the National Museum of African Art is known as being exemplary in their practices and standards, allows us to create a way to increase the level of exhibition and collection quality that we are looking to do here at the museum in Philadelphia,” said African American Museum President Romona Briscoe Benson.

Dr. Cole spent time at the museums viewing their collections. She says working with cultural organizations outside of the Smithsonian is necessary in this tough economy.

Reported By Cherri Gregg, KYW Newsradio

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