The educational workshops put together by the Martin Bodmer Foundation offer school groups the chance to learn about the history of writing. Les Arts et l’enfant (Arts and the child), for example, fits well into the cultural activities programs of primary schools. It has been helping pupils for several years now to enter the world of writing with a tour of our permanent exhibition followed by a hands-on workshop led by Stéphane Dubois-dit-Bonclaude. Thus, each year, nearly a thousand school children have been able to discover the Martin Bodmer Collection.
For the 2013 school year, three themes were chosen in keeping with the age and level of the pupils, namely, Egypt, the Middle Ages and the world wars. These workshops involved viewing copies of the Book of the Dead, doing drawings on papyrus, taking a close look at the Gutenberg Bible or Dante’s Divine Comedy, and creating an illuminated initial on “parchment” paper. Participants also received a facsimile page of the Diary of Anne Frank and made collages.
In 2015, through the generous support of the Philanthropic Committee of the Firmenich Family, the project was renewed with a workshop titled Cartographie et récits de voyage (Cartography and travel stories) at the start of the school year. Pupils viewed works by Christopher Columbus, Portugal’s national poet Luís de Camões, or Ptolemy. We are very pleased with the growing success of these workshops and want to continue our educational activities after the start of the new year with a series of fresh key words, Corps, cosmos et médecine (Body, cosmos and medicine).
The future of the Bodmer Collection depends on our ability to interest younger generations, primary and secondary school pupils and university students, in the intellectual and spiritual treasures of the written word that Martin Bodmer succeeded in bringing together under one roof in his lifetime. How to make this extraordinarily rich material accessible to the young? By developing with teachers and instructors a body of educational materials that will remain at schools’ disposal. It also entails a commitment of the Bodmer Foundation to the Department of Education of the Canton of Geneva, which provides us with support. The first step is historical. This service is an open project that evolves over time, inviting teachers on a voyage of discovery while offering useful training for their profession.
Complementing our public outreach efforts and their content, which is something we update each year, we also offer two separate tours here on our website where you will learn more about the techniques, professions, important dates, and striking examples, while viewing the collections that are used to illustrate these tutorials.
The first tour, titled L’écriture et le livre (Writing and Books), will help you to better understand the period that runs from the birth of writing to the development of medieval manuscripts. The second, L’imprimerie (printing), will enable you to acquire the essential keys to understanding in order to grasp the historic turning point that printing proved to be.
Don’t forget to have a look as well at the Chroniques d’une bibliothèque (Chronicles of a Library), which regularly focuses on one piece from the collection in particular, presenting its history, meaning, even stories about it.