A UNIQUE collection of 109 painted bear sculptures called United Buddy Bears – THE MINIS can be seen for the first time in Slovakia at the Polus City Center until August 13. The bears symbolise understanding and tolerance between nations of the world. The United Buddy Bears were first unveiled next to the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin in 2002-2003 and led to the creation of a smaller 2-metre version of what are known as ambassadors of peace.
“Bears representing countries from all over the world are holding hands and symbolising that nations can stand side by side, even if in reality they would not enjoy standing next to each other,” stated Klaus Herlitz, the German artist who initiated the idea along with his wife in 2001.
“These bears, which represent countries independently and free from any political or economic grouping, are meant to show the need for tolerance, respect and understanding among nations. So for example, bears symbolising Israel and Palestine stand next to each other,” Herlitz explained to the TASR newswire. The exhibition was opened on July 1 by Bratislava mayor Milan Ftáčnik, who also took part in painting one of the bears.
A goal of the exhibition in Bratislava is to collect money to support the Slovak Paralympic team’s trip to the London Paralympics 2012 and people who symbolically purchase one of the bears contribute to this cause.
“One of our successful athletes, Jakub Krako, launched the project Hľadáme talenty (We Look for Talents) to help disabled athletes,” Ján Riapoš, the chairman of the Slovak Paralympic Committee told TASR. “The receipts from this exhibition will also go for their training support and development and I believe they will be important competitors at the Brazil 2016 Paralympics.”