FAO Schwarz Teddy Bear Sculpture - Atlas Obscura

FAO Schwarz Teddy Bear Sculpture

A gift to the children of Boston, this bronze bear represents playfulness, a spirit of love, and the warmth of big hugs.  

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For many, going to a hospital is not always a pleasant experience. This can especially be true for children; The busy environment, being separated from family, and the uncertainties of what lies ahead can be very worrisome. However, at the Tufts Medical Center in Boston, patients are greeted by a local icon who helps inspire care, love, warmth, and joy to all who go through its doors; the FAO Schwarz Teddy Bear Sculpture.

The bronze sculpture was designed by Robert Shure of Woburn, Massachusetts, in the early 1990s and it stands roughly 12 feet tall. It was built as a gift to the children of Boston from the FAO Schwarz company and the bear was prominently displayed outside their toy store on Boylston Street. It was a popular attraction loved by children, parents, adults, couples, and tourists who often stopped to take pictures or wave hello. However, when FAO Schwarz declared bankruptcy in 2004, their Boston store was closed. The sculpture was donated to the city but without a home. 

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino held a competition asking the city’s children for suggestions. Over 7,000 entries from 34 states and even several foreign countries arrived with many of the letters being written in crayon or magic marker on lined paper. After much consideration, the winner was declared Tuft’s Children’s Hospital. The big bronze bear had found a new home.

In 2022, there was some concern the bear might lose his home again as some parts of the hospital were being rebranded, closed, and converted. Thankfully, the bear stayed put and is a welcoming sight to both children and adult patients. The FAO Schwarz bear has been a local icon spreading love, joy, and warmth to the residents of Boston and will continue to do so for many years to come.

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