On 26 February 1971, one month before his death, Martin Bodmer bequeathed his library, located in Cologny (Geneva), to a private not-for-profit foundation of public service. At the time the library contained over 150,000 items. Chaired by Daniel Bodmer, the founder’s eldest son, the board was made up of professors Denis van Berchem and Bernard Gagnebin, André Chavanne and the solicitor Jean Wuarin. The first director of the Bibliotheca Bodmeriana was Dr. H. Braun.
In December 1994, Professor Charles Méla succeeded Daniel Bodmer as the foundation’s president, and in 1996 Professor Martin Bircher took over from Dr. Hans E. Braun as director. On 21 November 2003, after three years of construction work, the new foundation museum was inaugurated. Designed by the architect Mario Botta, the museum is conceived to show the collection to good advantage and introduce its many treasures to the general public.
In January 2004, Professor Charles Méla took over as director, while the collector and benefactor Jean Bonna became the foundation’s new president. In September 2012, Laurence Gros assumed the presidency of the foundation board, and in February 2014 Professor Jacques Berchtold was officially named director of the institution.
For the years 2012-2015, a subsidy agreement was signed between the Republic and Canton of Geneva and the Martin Bodmer Foundation, “as part of the State of Geneva’s public policy of support for the arts.” As a result, the foundation receives state funding associated with the districts of Cologny and Collonge-Bellerive. Both the State of Geneva and Cologny have representatives on the foundation’s board.