Idea & Philosophy

A Peace and Tolerance Initiative from Berlin to the World

A Berlin Success Story begins

The Buddy Bear Berlin was born 2001. Inspired by the idea of bringing art to the streets of metropolis, the initiators of the Buddy Bears, Eva and Klaus Herlitz, made the decision to develop a street art campaign for Berlin. When asked which sculpture would ideally fit into the backdrop of the German capital, the decision in favor of the bear was quickly reached. As the heraldic animal of Berlin and a popular figure, the bear was to open the hearts of all citizens of Berlin and the future guests coming to Berlin by just being warm and friendly. And so, the perfect name was quickly found: Buddy Bear.

Based on designs by two master students at the Berlin University of the Arts, sculptor Roman Strobl made the first Buddy Bear sculptures. This was the birth hour of a true Berlin super star and at the same time the beginning of an international success story! Within a few weeks, more than 100 Buddy Bears designed by various artists brought color and joy to the streets and squares of the capital. The success was overwhelming. From the original temporarily planned art initiative, the Berlin Bears developed into a permanent part of the Berlin streetscape as well as an unofficial symbol of the city.

The Buddy Bear is not Berlin's only ambassador. But no one else is so capable of uniting Berlin's cheerfulness, diversity and
creativity.

Our Buddy Bear Berlin across the globe

From Berlin, the bears soon travelled across the globe. Many companies and institutions in Germany and abroad as well as private individuals bought their own unique Buddy Bear sculptures. Again and again, there were art initiatives with Buddy Bears in public spaces in other cities. Above all, however, a campaign by the German Foreign Ministry made the Buddy Bears known abroad as ambassadors of a liberal and cosmopolitan Germany. In the meantime, there are bear sculptures in front of over 100 foreign embassies, whose design expresses the friendly connection between Germany and the nation of the host country.

However, the Buddy Bears celebrate their greatest success with the International Exhibition of the United Buddy Bears, which has been touring around the world for the past 20 years under the title "The Art of Tolerance". These are now over 140 Buddy Bears, each representing a country of the United Nations and designed by an awarded artist of that country. They stand peacefully paw to paw, one could almost say "hand in hand" next to each other - always the same sculpture and yet all fundamentally different. Art is their common language. In this way, they promote tolerance and international understanding and have been able to inspire more than 40 million people at 34 exhibitions on all continents.

  • 146 Buddy Bears
  • 34 exhibitions
  • over 40 million visitors
  • on 5 continents

Buddy Bear Berlin supports Children in Need

All activities of the Buddy Bears also always go hand in hand with helping children in need – be it auctions or the most diverse fundraising campaigns. Buddy Bear Berlin, the company behind all these activities, donates a portion of its online store revenue to help children. Buyers of large sculptures are encouraged to support children's charities with their purchase. Through all activities, more than 2.5 million euros have been collected for needy children since the beginning of the Buddy Bear story.