The exposition became possible due to the co-operation agreement signed by the heads of the Hermitage and Guggenheim Museum (New York) which has branches in various countries. It brings the Hermitage 50 per cent of its annual budget - 10 million Euro. Nowadays, the Hermitage expositions are open in the Guggenheim Museum branches in Las Vegas and London, and another exhibition is to open in Toronto in November.
The exhibition of the Hermitage treasures in Bilbao became an important event in Spain's cultural life. It features more than 200 paintings, including 25 paintings by Rubens, ivory sculptures, carpets, tapestries and jewellery.
"Modern art needs more detailed investigation of old painters, and we want artists and all lovers of painting to understand it," Hermitage director Mikhail Piotrovsky said at the opening of the exhibition.
The exhibition in Bilbao will last till February 2003.