A bear has been Berlin’s heraldic symbol for centuries. Since 2001 this symbol has turned into an icon, which was immediately adopted by the Berliners. The bear has got a standard body shape even if the sizes and colours are different.
The bear is represented in a standing position with raised arms. The mascot conveys a message of openness, friendliness and hope.
Over the past 15 years the city of Berlin has been populated with bears so one can see them in front of buildings, in parks, shops, almost everywhere.
The idea of populating the city with bears came from a project named “United Buddy Bears”, which was designed in 2001. The project key message is to promote understanding, peace and harmony.
In 2002 the first large-scale exhibition gathered an impressive number of bears holding their hands in a circle around the Brandenburg Gate. Since then the bear collection has travelled around the world to share the project message for tolerance, understanding and peace.
Many cities around the world hosted the travelling exhibition.
Eva and Klaus Herlitz created the bear prototype. Sculptor Roman Strobl contributed.
Berliners say that, from the project initiation in 2001, contributing artists painted around 350 bears to be placed on the streets of Berlin. Today the bear mascot is part of the city landscape, in different colour touches.
The “United Buddy Bears” project turned into a worldwide success because of its simple message and the involvement of 240 artists representing over 150 countries.