United Buddy Bears

One World Buddy Bear
United Buddy Bears — Exhibition Paris 2012

Buddy Bears is the name given to painted, life-size fibreglass bear sculptures developed by Klaus and Eva Herlitz, in cooperation with sculptor Roman Strobl. The raised arms of the standing Buddy Bears are aligned on the dissemination of friendliness and optimism, and thus mediate a positive mood. "The Buddy Bear has become an unofficial ambassador for Germany and is a symbol of Berlin since 2001. 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."[1] In addition to the Classic Buddy Bears presented far beyond Berlin’s city limits, the circle of United Buddy Bears came into being in 2002. The Exhibition travel around the world promoting "peace, international understanding and tolerance among the nations, cultures and religions of this world".[2]

Buddy Bear Berlin Show

Two Buddy Bears at Kurfürstendamm 21, Berlin
United Buddy Bears, Exhibition
Rio de Janeiro,[3] Copacabana 2014

The first activities were presented as the Buddy Bear Berlin Show. In 2001, artists painted approximately 350 bears to appear in the public domain, as decorative elements in the streets of Berlin. Four different bear designs (one standing on all four paws, one standing on two legs, one standing on its head and one in a sitting position) took part in this activity in the city centre of Berlin.[4] Afterwards, many of the bears were sold at auctions in aid of child relief organisations. Nowadays, these Berlin Buddy Bears are exclusively presented on private premises, in front of hotels and embassies as well as in the foyers of various office buildings.

There have already been exhibitions of the original Buddy Bears — designed by local artists — in the cities of Shanghai (2004), Buenos Aires (2005) and St. Gallen / Switzerland (2006).

United Buddy Bears

United Buddy Bears, Exhibition, Berlin 2006
United Buddy Bears, Exhibition Vienna 2006
United Buddy Bears, Exhibition Cairo 2007
United Buddy Bears, Exhibition Jerusalem 2007
United Buddy Bears, Exhibition Buenos Aires 2009
United Buddy Bears, Exhibition Astana (Kazakhstan) 2010
United Buddy Bears, Exhibition Helsinki 2010, Senate Square
United Buddy Bears, Exhibition Sofia 2011, Square St Nedelya

United Buddy Bears is an international art exhibition with more than 140 two metre tall fibreglass bears. Under the motto: "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", more than 140 countries acknowledged by the United Nations are represented, promoting "tolerance, international understanding and the great concept of different nations and cultures living in peace and harmony". The bears stand "hand in hand" in a "peaceful circle" (The Art of Tolerance[5]).

The bears were on display between June and November 2002, in a circle around the Brandenburg Gate. Around 1.5 million people visited this first exhibition.

On 6 November 2002, the bears were moved to new locations, including their respective countries embassies in Berlin, or back to country that they were based on. Some of the bears were auctioned off to raise money for UNICEF.

After the circle of "United Buddy Bears" had been such an overwhelming success in 2002, a new circle was created in 2003. The idea was to send the circle on a global tour.[6]

On their global tour, the "United Buddy Bears" promote peace, love, tolerance and international understanding. The circle changes every time it reaches a new city. This is not only due to the local conditions, but also to their constantly changing order, as the bears are always set up in alphabetic order, following the local language of the host country. This always leads to new and sometimes politically very interesting proximities.

Entry to the exhibitions is always free. This makes it possible for many school classes to visit the exhibitions in the morning — as part of their lessons — to explore and learn a lot about the culture, history, landscape, economy and music of all five continents in a playful manner. During past exhibitions more than 35 million visitors have already admired the colourful United Buddy Bears.

In every metropolis, the United Buddy Bears exhibitions are supported by the government, the foreign ministries, the mayors and the UNICEF organisations. Heads of state - for example the Japanese Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, the German Federal President, Horst Köhler and First Lady of Egypt, Suzanne Mubarak as well as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors such as Sir Peter Ustinov,[7] Jackie Chan,[8] Christiane Hörbiger, Mia Farrow,[9] Iris Berben and Ken Done have opened these exhibitions all over the world. United Buddy Bears Special Ambassador is the actress Dennenesch Zoudé.[10]

The bears have been displayed at the following Stations since the beginning of the tour:

Year Country / City
Site of exhibition
Patron of the exhibition / Opening by
June - November
Berlin, Right next to the Brandenburg Gate - Pariser Platz
Joschka Fischer, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs
Klaus Wowereit, Berlin’s Governing Mayor
July - November
Berlin, Right next to the Brandenburg Gate - Pariser Platz
Sir Peter Ustinov, Actor and UNICEF World Ambassador
January - February
Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs
Horst Wendling, Mayor of Kitzbühel
May - June
 Hong Kong
Hong Kong, Victoria Park
Jackie Chan, Actor and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador
Patrick Ho, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Home Affairs
2004 / 2005
December - January
Istanbul, Tepebaşı Pera Square, Beyoğlu
Ahmet Misbah Demircan, Mayor of Beyoğlu
Rainer Möckelmann, German General Consul in Istanbul
April - May
Tokyo,[11] Roppongi Hills
Junichiro Koizumi, Prime Minister of Japan
Horst Köhler, President of the Federal Republic of Germany
October - November
 South Korea
Seoul, Olympic Park
Messages of greeting from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Korea, Ban Ki-moon
March - April
Sydney, Sydney Opera HouseCircular Quay
John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia
Ken Done, Artist and UNICEF Ambassador
June - July
Berlin,[12] Bebelplatz
Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development
Karin Schubert, Mayor of Berlin
Mia Farrow, American actress and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador
September - October
Vienna, Karlsplatz
Grete Laska, Deputy Mayor of Vienna
Karin Schubert, Mayor of Berlin
Christiane Hörbiger, Film actress and UNICEF Ambassador
April - May
Cairo,[13] Gezira Promenade Zamalek
Suzanne Mubarak, First Lady of Egypt
Hans-Dietrich Genscher, former German Foreign Minister
Abdel Azim Wazir, Governor of Cairo
August - September
Jerusalem, Safra Square
Tzipi Livni, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Israel
Yigal Amedi, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem
Iris Berben, German actress and winners of the Women's World Award 2004
May - June
Warsaw, Castle Square
Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, Mayor of the City of Warsaw
Klaus Wowereit, Governing Mayor of Berlin
Anne Hidalgo, First Deputy Mayor of Paris
July -August
Stuttgart, Schlossplatz
Wolfgang Schuster, Lord Mayor of Stuttgart
 North Korea
Pyongyang,[14] Moran Hill Youth Park, close to the Kim-Il-Sung statue
Mun Jae Chol, Foreign Affairs of North-Korea
Thomas Schäfer, German Ambassador in North Korea
March - April
Buenos Aires,[15] Plaza San Martin
Mauricio Macri, Mayor of Buenos Aires
Hernán Lombardi, Minister for Cultural Affairs
May - June
Montevideo,[16] Plaza Independencia
Tabaré Vázquez, President of Uruguay
Ricardo Ehrlich, Mayor of Montevideo
Bernhard Graf von Waldersee, German Ambassador in Uruguay
2009 / 2010
November - April
Berlin,[17] Hauptbahnhof,[18] Indoor
Ursula von der Leyen, Federal Ministry of Family Affairs
Dennenesch Zoudé, German actress and United Buddy Bears Special Ambassador
May - July
Astana, Right next to the Bayterek Tower
Imangali Tasmagambetov, Akim of Astana
Rainer Schlageter, German Ambassador in Kazakhstan
September - October
Helsinki,[19] Senate Square
Jussi Pajunen, Mayor of Helsinki
Peter Scholz, German Ambassador in Finland
April - May
Sofia,[20] Square St Nedelya
Yordanka Fandakova, Mayor of Sofia
Klaus Wowereit, Berlin’s Governing Mayor
Matthias Martin Höpfner, German Ambassador in Bulgaria
June - October
Berlin,[21] Kurfürstendamm
Klaus Wowereit, Berlin’s Governing Mayor
Monika Thiemen, Mayor of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf
2011 / 2012
December - February
Kuala Lumpur,[22][23] Right next to the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur[24]
Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, Sultan of Selangor
Ahmad Fuad Ismail, Mayor of Kuala Lumpur
March - May
New Delhi,[25][26] Connaught Place
Sheila Dikshit, Chief Minister of Delhi
Klaus Wowereit, Berlin’s Governing Mayor
June - August
Moscow,[27][28] Alexander Garden, right next to the Palace Square
Vladimir Putin, President of Russia
Joachim Gauck, President of Germany[29]
Paris[30][31][32] / Eiffel Tower - Champ de Mars
Guido Westerwelle, German Minister of Foreign Affairs
Bertrand Delanoë, Mayor of Paris
Pierre Schapira, Member of the European Parliament
May - July
Rio de Janeiro,[33] Copacabana
Eduardo Paes, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro
Jürgen Trittin, German Federal Ministry for the Environment from 1998-2005
Harald Klein, German General Consul in Rio de Janeiro
January - March
Havana,[34][35][36] Plaza San Francisco de Asis[37]
Eusebio Leal, Ambassador of Good Will of the United Nations
Peter Scholz, German Ambassador in Cuba
Eva and Klaus Herlitz, the initiators of the United Buddy Bears activities
April - June
Santiago de Chile, Vitacura, Parque Bicentenario
Heraldo Muñoz Valenzuela, Foreign Affairs Minister of Chile
Hans Henning Blomeyer-Bartenstein, German Ambassador in Chile
August - October
Penang,[38][39] George Town
Lim Guan Eng, Chief Minister of Penang


The Minis

In the autumn of 2003, the circle of United Buddy Bears-The Minis — was presented in Berlin for the first time.[49] Since then, this circle has been shown in Frankfurt/Main, in Potsdam and at the Sony Center in Berlin — to name just a few locations. Since 2012, they have also been travelling to destinations outside of Germany, e.g. Bratislava in  Slovakia, Borås[50] in  Sweden, Calais in  France and in  Russia in Yekaterinburg[51] and Kazan.[52]

Aid for children in need

Buddy Bear activities and help for children in need have formed an inseparable unit. New United Buddy Bears are often designed to replace the previous unique sculpture of a particular country. Many countries are already represented with the third or fourth bear. The previous bears designed on behalf of the respective countries are generally sold at auctions.

As of December 2015 donations and selling Buddy Bears at auction had generated a total of Euro 2,100,000 in aid of UNICEF and of local organisations helping children in need.

Involved artists

In the early years, the Bears were designed by regional artists and Berlin celebrities for the exhibition Art in the City.[53] From 2002 onwards, thanks to support from Lufthansa, Air Berlin and the Berlin Hotel Association, artists from all five continents took part in the international project United Buddy Bears. More than 240 artists from over 150 countries have taken part in this project to date,[54] such as, for example Arik Brauer, Hernando León, Ibrahim Hazimeh, Carlos Páez Vilaró, Seo Soo-Kyoung, Helge Leiberg, Leda Luss Luyken, Ludmila Seefried-Matějková – this is also echoed by the artist and UNICEF Australian National Ambassador, Ken Done.



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  5. "Global Tour". Buddy-baer.com. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  6. "Jackie Chan and the Buddy Bears". Jackiechankids.com. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  7. "Mia Farrow and United Buddy Bears". Photos1.blogger.com. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
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  14. "Montevideo 2009". Elpais.com.uy. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
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  18. "Video:United Buddy Bears in Sofia, Bulgaria". Downpourbg.com. 2011-04-11. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
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  21. "Video: United Buddy Bears in Kuala Lumpur". Youtube.com. 2011-12-16. Retrieved 2012-04-07.
  22. Khairir, Ihsan (2012-01-19). "United Buddy Bears in Kuala Lumpur". Ihsankhairir.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  23. "New Delhi 2012". The Hindu. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
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  25. "The St. Petersburg Times, July 4, 2012". Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  26. "United Buddy Bears in Saint Petersburg 2012". - - Projekte - Официальный сайт Года Германии в России / Offizielle Webseite des Deutschlandjahres in Russland. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  27. Goethe Institute Russia
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  29. "French Embassy in Berlin: "Berliner Buddy Bären unter dem Eiffelturm"". Frankreich in Deutschland. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
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  31. "Colorful bear statues representing UN member states on display in Rio de Janeiro". YouTube. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  32. Cuba Absolutely: "United Buddy Bears in Havana"
  33. Latin American Herald Tribune: "Germany to Pack Havana with More Than 100 Bear Sculptures"
  34. "Germany's United Buddy Bears debuts in Havana"
  35. "Bears in Havana: Another Step for Tolerance"
  36. United Buddy Bears in Penang
  37. bernama.com: "Bear Replica Exhibition In Penang From Aug-Oct"
  38. China-Net, 2003-7-29: “Ustinov gave the opening address of the exhibition in the presence of more than 70 ambassadors”
  39. Madeline Chan. "Hong Kong 2004". Worldisround.com. Archived from the original on February 4, 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  40. United Buddy Bears Seoul Festival 2005
  41. The Jerusalem Post, Tuesday, July 31, 2007, P. 7 (NEWS): "Jerusalem bears down for international exhibition" by Yaffi Spodek
  42. "United Buddy Bears in Jerusalem". Ubb.jerusalem.muni.il. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  43. The Seoul Times, Wednesday, June 1, 2016: “Buddy Bears Brings the Art of Tolerance to Pyongyang”
  44. "Buddy Bears welcome Rio World Cup, May 2nd, 2014". Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  45. IANSlive: "Germany sends peace message through sculptures in Cuba"
  46. 128 "United Buddy Bears" Arrive in Havana
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  48. "Video Borås". Frequency. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
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  50. TV report in Kazan (Russia)
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  52. Eva und Klaus Herlitz: United Buddy Bears — The Art of Tolerance, Page 52 - 357, Berlin, 2009/10, ISBN 978-3-00-029417-4.

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