The Founder of the Bibliotheca Bodmeriana (1951) was Martin Bodmer (1899 – 1971). He was a great bibliophile and collector of books and manuscripts.
He bequeathed his library in Cologny to the Foundation (Fondation Martin Bodmer) in 1971. The collection contains more than 150,000 items from 80 different cultures.
The core collection of the library is made up of some about 200 Western manuscripts and about one hundred Eastern manuscriots, around 2 000 autograph documents and 270 incunabula (a tenth of which are Rara and Unica) and a magnificent papyri collection. Rare printed works also figure among the Bodmer’s treasures, with several thousand original editions dating from the 16th to the 20th century.
These masterpieces include several copies of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the “Dantean corpus” with three 14th century manuscripts of the Commedia and a remarkable series of incunabula, manuscripts of works by Virgil and Thomas Aquinas, Goethe’s Faust II , the corpus of the Bodmer Papyri (around 1800 pages in Coptic and Greek on Christian and pagan subjects), the Lope de Vega collection (autograph documents, editiones principes, 44 volumes of the first reprinting of the plays), Shakespeare (the complete first editions, viz., the first folios, 60 quarto editions, the 1609 Sonnets, the apocrypha), and Molière (the first editions of practically all the plays), manuscripts featuring the writings of Flavius Josephus, the Roman de la Rose, and Sa’di’s Gulistan, first editions such as the Gutenberg Bible, Luther’s Theses, or Newton’s Principia mathematica annotated by Leibniz, and hundreds of documents in the hand of Hölderlin, Mozart, Beethoven, Napoleon, Valéry, Borges, and many others.
On 21 November 2003, the Foundation’s new Museum was inaugurated. The permanent exhibition shows the history of the written word, starting about 5 000 years ago in the Orient.
The museum gives a chronological overview from the Greek and Roman written legacy, the Bible and Christianity, Middles Ages and the Renaissance, the early modern period, the enlightenment, the nineteenth century and modern and contemporary times.Museum: Martin Bodmer Foundation
Address: 19-21 Route Martin Bodmer