The Biblioteca Bodemeriana was inaugurated on 6 October 1951.
In a private letter dated ‘Pontresina, 21 January 1969’, Martin Bodmer wrote:
‘The Bodmeriana must live up to its expectations! It is after all a wonderful treasure (discreetly hidden from curious eyes) and represents one of the jewels of our time’.
In 1970, he defined the Bodemeriana as ‘an ambitious undertaking’:
‘It represents an attempt to embrace humanity as a whole, or in other words history, as reflected by spiritual creation throughout all ages and in all parts of the world (Sie möchte das Menschlich-Ganze umfassen, also die Geschichte, wie sie sich in den Geistesschöpfungen aller Zeiten und Zonen spiegelt).’ (Image, Medizinische Bilddokumentation Roche, Basel, 1970)
Martin Bodmer wrote one of his last notes on New Year’s Eve 1971, at a time when he was in great physical pain:
‘It really was a truly horrible New Year’s Eve – so far removed from my dear Meyer’s “New Year Bells”! Alice gave me something, and I got to sleep at last. But – miracle of miracles! – the idea I had been waiting for all these long weeks was born. And it was the solution. On that terrible night of 1 January 1971, of all nights! It is very simple: the chorus mysticus – the representatives of history who have come closest to the totality of humanity (das Menschlich-Ganze).’
The expression chorus mysticus is taken from the end of Goethe’s Faust. It means ‘the group of people to whom the secret power of human civilization is due. The chorus mysticus begins with men of action and closes with the poet’ (London lecture, 1967).
Dean Bernard Gagnebin subtitled his brochure on the Martin Bodmer Foundation, ‘A leading source for research in Geneva’. He further noted:
‘The Martin Bodmer Foundation is an unlimited source of discovery and research information for archaeologists, art historians, papyrologists, experts in medieval studies, and experts in French, German, English, Italian, Spanish, Scandinavian, Slavic and Eastern literature.’