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 that we mainly owe 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
We would also like to thank two Berlin organisations that supported the project right from the beginning. Without the help of the BSR (municipal cleaning service in Berlin) and the BVG (in charge of public transport in Berlin), this 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 far 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.