A library dedicated to World Litterature


The Bodmer Foundation (French: Fondation Bodmer) is a library and museum specialised in manuscripts and precious editions. It is located in Cologny, Switzerland just outside Geneva.

Also known as Bibliotheca Bodmeriana (or Bodmer Library), it is a Swiss heritage site of national significance. The library was established by Martin Bodmer and is famous as the home of the Bodmer Papyri. Some of these papyri are among the oldest remaining copies of the New Testament. Some manuscripts are written in Greek, others in Coptic (e.g. Papyrus Bodmer III). The first of the manuscripts was purchased in 1956 (Papyrus Bodmer II — P66). It also houses a copy of the Gutenberg Bible.


Michel Butor and artist’s books - from 13 June 2015 till 09 October 2016

Frankenstein: Creation of Darkness - from 14 May 2016 till 9 October 2016

Goethe and France - from 12 November 2016 till 26 April 2017


BBC: Frankenstein: Freak events that gave birth to a masterpiece (19 May 2016)

The Telegraph: Beauty and the beast: How Switzerland inspired Frankenstein (5 June 2016)

Fayoum mummy portrait, 2nd century, first half BC

Hawara (?), Egypt

The tradition of Egyptian mummy portraits from the Roman period, sometimes called Fayoum portrait after the place in which they are most commonly found, are of indisputable interest because they bridge three artistic and cultural movements: the Egyptian, Hellenistic and Imperial Roman traditions. Such portraits are the next step in the tradition of mummy funerary masks although the clothing and hairstyles represented are a legacy of the period of Roman occupation. These paintings were made by Egyptian and Greek artists for the dead of all social classes and are a marvellous example of cultural proliferation during the first centuries of our era and of the debates between Christianity and the polytheism of the ancient world


Oil on wood

Johannes Gutenberg (1398 – 1468)

Gutenberg Bible, c. 1452 -1454

The "Gutenberg" or "42-line" Bible was the first complete book to be printed in movable type and remains a typographical masterpiece. The two columns of print in "textura" type and the initials and rubrics in calligraphy evoke the art of Medieval manuscripts. Of the first printing of 180 copies produced in a collaborative effort between the printer, the calligrapher, Peter Schöffer, and the financier Johannes Fust, some 40 have survived, including 18 complete copies. The only example in a Swiss collection is in Cologny: this rarity, which the Soviets found in a the Czar's library and sold in 1928, was acquired by Martin Bodmer in London.

Pages 01r & 293r


40 x 28 cm
IncBodmer 259

The Gospel of Saint John (P66), 2nd - 3rd century

This papyrus, which contains the Gospel of Saint John, provides remarkable evidence of the origins of the modern book: as early as the 1st century A.D., the codex gave the new Christian community the same advantage as secretaries, lawyers and students - it was easy to consult, store and transport and new pages could be added - and is therefore an important stage in the history of this gospel. Until the 19th century, the oldest known manuscript was the 4th century Codex Vatinacus; The first fragment dating from the 3rd century was published in 1899 as part of the Oxyrrhyncus papyri. The Bodmer manuscript, which dates from the end of the 2nd century or the very beginning of the third centuy, is thus one of the oldest complete copy.


Papyrus, Greek manuscript
17 x 15 cm
PBodmer II

The Nativity of Mary, 3rd century

The Nativity of Mary, better known as the Protogospel of Saint James (the title given to it by its first editor in the 16th century), is an apocryphal book of the New Testament written during the 2nd century. The Bodmer copy, which dates from the 3rd century, is the oldest examplar, so close to the date of composition that is the key to the history of this apocryphal gospel's development. It tells the story of Jesus' childhood and was of great importance to the Eastern Churches; it was translated into Syrian, Coptic, Saidic, Arabic, Aramean, Ethiopian and even Slavic. In the West, this apocryphal book was banned by Pope Innocent I in 417.


Papyrus, Greek manuscript
17.5 x 16 cm
PBodmer V