An acquisition policy was defined following a number of donations and the successful sale of drawing and tapestry collections not directly related to the core of the library, i.e. works of the human mind handed down through writing, in particular books. It was decided that only authors and texts that had played a major role in the history of civilizations would be considered. In each case, purchases would concentrate only on what was most representative and most likely to fill existing lacunae, such as 20th century literature in French, English and Latin-American Spanish. It was also agreed that efforts should be made to reinforce the collection’s particular strength (e.g. German autograph manuscripts) and, when possible, acquire complete works.
Based on this policy, the Foundation acquired a number of surrealist works, texts by Cendrars and the complete collection of Michaux’ poems and works. It also purchased Rilke’s letters to Baladine, including autograph poems, first editions, photographs and watercolours; first corrected proofs of Marcel Proust’s Du côté de chez Swann; typed manuscripts and proofs of a short story by Henry James (The Jolly Corner); and autograph manuscripts by Jean Genet (Pour un funambule) and Jorge Luis Borges (El Sur). Autograph manuscripts of scientific literature and musical scores were also acquired, in particular an unreleased quartet by Beethoven, an oratorio by Paul Hindemith and a concert for cello and orchestra by Frank Martin.
After Martin Bodmer’s death, the Foundation received gifts of books and library collections. The most important was the science library donated by André Chavanne when he died in 1990. It consisted of 4,000 old and new books on science and philosophy.
Other donations included a collection of book covers and bound books by Rodolphe Töpffer donated by Maurice Battelli in 1979; documents of contemporary history bequeathed by Kaarel Peeter Selter, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, in 1989; the private library of Denis van Berchem, Professor of Ancient History and former Dean of the University of Geneva, in 1990; the library of the orientalist Amir Mehdi Badi (author of Les Grecs et les Barbares, 6 parts, 14 vols., P. Geuthner, Paris, 1963-1991), received from his widow in 1995; a complete edition of Mozart’s works donated by Madame Daniel Bodmer; the linguistics library of Georges Cuendet donated by Georges-André Cuendet; first editions of books and pamphlets by Michel Butor produced between 1965 and 1985. The author himself presented the donation and, moreover, signed his works that the Foundation had acquired previously.
Since 2000, and in particular since the Museum opened in 2003, donations have increased steadily, proof of the growing interest generated by the Foundation.