The exhibitions of recent years, while presenting art of the highest quality, have largely dealt with movements of people and ideas which have modelled Europe as we know it: the ancient civilisations of Anatolia, the Bronze Age, the Vikings, the Portuguese discoveries, the French revolution and the Republican ideals (Emblems of Liberty) and War and Peace in Europe. Others, like "Art and Power" (1995) and "The Art of Historicism" (1996), illustrated the powerful interplay between society and its art and artists.
Exhibition themes were proposed to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, who - on the recommendation of a permanent group of consultants consisting of the directors of several prominent European museums (British Museum, London, Museo del Prado, Madrid, Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence, The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna, Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Musée du Louvre, Paris)- referred them to the Council for Cultural Cooperation for a decision on their inclusion in the series.
The preparation and organisation of the exhibitions was in itself a fine example of European cooperation and mutual assistance. While the host country took responsibility for the bulk of the cost and for the major part of the organisation of the event, other countries gave technical help and lend works of art for display from their museums. The cost of these loans was borne in the main by a special account in the Cultural Fund of the Council of Europe, which was supported by annual voluntary contributions from most member states.
Several exhibitions have also been organised outside this series in partnership, notably four exhibitions on modern art with the city of Strasbourg in the 60s-70s; an exhibition on "Love and Marriage" in three Belgian cities in 1975; an exhibition-dialogue on "Contemporary art in Europe" with the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon in 1985; "Space in European art" in Tokyo in 1987 with the Yomiuri Shimbun; and a travelling exhibition organised in 1987/88 with the French contemporary art magazine "Eighty" devoted to "European painters
of the eighties".