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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » May 7, 2008
On the town
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Buddy Bears Come to Warsaw
May 7, 2008   
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A spectacular "United Buddy Bears" exhibition will come to Warsaw for the first time May 10 at the invitation of the city's mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz.

The exhibition will feature 138 colorful, two-meter-tall fiberglass bear sculptures representing the countries recognized by the United Nations. While in Warsaw, the bears will remain on the city's Zamkowy Square until June 22. They will stand side by side as a symbol of tolerance, peaceful coexistence and international understanding.

A total of 138 artists from different countries designed one Buddy Bear each to represent their individual home countries. The different styles of the international artists from all over the world form a cheerful synthesis of the arts, exuding joie de vivre. Viewing the bears, exhibition visitors experience a journey around the globe and gain an insight into different cultures.

Following an exhibition in Berlin, the "United Buddy Bears" have been on a global tour since the beginning of 2004, with around 17 million visitors having admired them so far. With the support of the UNICEF ambassador and actor Jackie Chan, they went to Hong Kong and subsequently visited the city of Istanbul. In 2005, the next stop was Tokyo, where German President Horst Köhler and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi opened the exhibition. A total of 3 million visitors were counted in Tokyo alone.

Last spring the bears visited Cairo and were welcomed by Egypt's First Lady, Suzanne Mubarak. After the United Buddy Bears promoted their international unifying message in an Arab country, they arrived in Jerusalem last summer.

The aim of Buddy Bear projects is not only to make people think, but also to help children in need. So far, donations and auctions have generated more than 1.42 million euros in aid for local and international child relief organizations.

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