Background

"We have to get to know each other better ...
... it makes us understand one another better,
trust each other more, and live together more peacefully"

Under this motto, the UNITED BUDDY BEARS promote living together in peace and harmony on their global tour. Around 140 Buddy Bears (each 2 m tall) represent as many countries recognised by the United Nations.

Since the first exhibition in Berlin in 2002, more than 35 million visitors world-wide have been able to admire the United Buddy Bears.

Art and Culture: Each Buddy Bear shows the individual design created by different artists on behalf of their native countries. The international artists’ different styles are joined together in one work of art, spreading zest for life. The diverse design of the Buddy Bears – always typical for the respective countries – enables the visitors to experience a journey around the globe.

The Message: The Buddy Bears stand together “hand in hand”, symbolising the future vision of a peaceful world. Each bear stands for the people of the different countries and their culture, yet not for political systems.

Charity: Buddy Bear activities and aid for children in need have formed an inseparable unit. To date,  € 2,100,000 (June 2016) have been raised through donations and auctions in aid of UNICEF and local children’s relief organisations.

Meet the Creator

The First Buddy Bears In Berlin

The story of the Buddy Bears started with an artistic event in Berlin in 2001. Inspired by the idea of bringing art in the streets of a metropolis like the Cow Parade in Zurich and New York, the initiators of the Buddy Bears, Klaus und Eva Herlitz, decided to start a street art project in Berlin.

It was quickly agreed that a bear would be the ideal sculpture for the backdrops of the German metropolis. The bear - Berlin’s heraldic animal with a high level of public appeal – was envisaged to capture the hearts of Berliners and their guests in various different designs.

Two master students of the famous Berlin University of the Arts realised the first Buddy Bear. Anne and Roman Strobel – two friends of the Herlitz family – designed the siblings of the first Buddy Bear.

See how the first sculpture was created

With the completion of the first bear sculptures, nothing could get in the way of new artistic designs and the continuous growth of the Buddy Bear family.

Only a few months later, the initial Buddy Bear was ready for the first public appearance in Berlin. A new Berlin star was born! And the story began – a story nowadays travelling around the world!

Over the following weeks, more than 100 bears were created. As from 20th June 2001, they were presented in different locations all over the city.

The project was a great success mainly owing to the fantastic artists who gave each individual bear a unique identity. The bears were visible all over Berlin, attracting thousands of delighted looks.

Here you can find some impressions of the first Buddy Bears

Two Berlin organisations supported the project right from the beginning - the BSR (the municipality for cleaning services in Berlin) and the BVG (in charge of public transport in Berlin), without which the exhibition would not have been possible.

Nowadays, the bears have become an integral part of Berlin’s cityscape and travel around the world on their global tour.

In addition to the Classic Buddy Bears presented for beyond Berlin’s city limits, the circle of United Buddy Bears came into being in 2002. Each bear in the circle represents a country acknowledged by the United Nations. The United Buddy Bears travel around the world promoting tolerance and international understanding – always standing together hand in hand.