About > History and Landmarks

History and Landmarks


Professor Boris Schatz, one of the founders of the Royal Academy of Art in Sofia, Bulgaria, presents his proposal to establish an arts and crafts school in the Land of Israel to Theodore Herzl.

The Seventh Zionist Congress in Basel passes a resolution to establish the "Bezalel" School of Art.

Professor Schatz establishes the Bezalel School of Arts & Crafts in Jerusalem. The school's goals are: “to train the people of Jerusalem in crafts, develop original Jewish art and support Jewish artists, develop visual expressions towards national and spiritual independence. seeking to create a synthesis between European artistic traditions and Jewish design traditions of the East and West and to integrate these with the local cultures of the Land of Israel.”

The Bezalel School moves to its new buildings. New departments are opened and the school expands its scope of activities.

Bezalel grows in success until World War I when it severs its links with the executive committee in Berlin and with its patrons and supporters in Europe. As a result, the institution faces political, financial and management difficulties.

Bezalel closes down before the British enter Jerusalem. The Turks decide to deport anyone suspected as possessing the potential of serving as a 'fifth column'. Accordingly, they deport Boris Schatz to Damascus and the Bezalel School faces an existential crisis until General Allenby enters Jerusalem in late 1917.

Schatz returns from exile and activities at the School resume developing to include instruction in painting and sculpture alongside crafts such as carpet making, metalworking and woodcarving.

Bezalel find itself in financial difficulties and the School closes down temporarily while Schatz travels abroad to raise funds.

Schatz dies in the USA while on tour with a roving exhibition of works by Bezalel’s artists.

The Berlin-based Executive Committee reopens the New Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts, now headed by renowned Berlin print artist Josef Budko. Many of the teachers’ hail from Germany and are strongly influenced by the Bauhaus movement. Bezalel emphasizes the study of typography, graphic art and practical arts as an expression of the needs and socio-economic developments of those years.

Budko dies and Max Bronstein – otherwise known as artist Mordechai Ardon – is appointed in his place. Ardon is a disciple of the Bauhaus school who taught at Johannes Itten’s art school. World War II brings about serious difficulties once again placing the school’s existence at risk, but it survives.

Following the end of World War II, many new students enrol in Bezalel and for the first time among the new students are survivors of the concentration camps in Europe.

Subsequent to the establishment of the State of Israel the task of integrating the School into the national agenda is regarded as of the highest importance to the fledgling state and Bezalel is duty-bound to expand the teaching of fine arts in Israel and become Israel’s premier academy of arts.

Sculptor Zeev Ben-Zvi is appointed to head Bezalel and the government of Israel, aware of Bezalel’s historic importance and unique role, begins to provide funding to the school. After a year, Ben-Zvi is succeeded by Yaakov Steinhardt, who is in turn followed by Yerahmiel Schechter, Yitzhak Aschheim and Felix Darnell.

By early 1955, the “New Bezalel” academy is declared an “Academy of Art.” The student body grows to over 200 and the building is expanded.

The Bezalel Academy of Art receives the Israel Prize on the occasion of Israel’s tenth Independence Day.

Dan Hofner is appointed head of Bezalel and works intensively to change the school’s legal, financial and academic status. Bezalel’s departmental structure begins to evolve into its present form.

The Minister of Education and Culture appoints a committee that recommends the Council for Higher Education “take the measures necessary in order to bring the Bezalel School up to the level of an institution of higher education”. The Council for Higher Education adopts the committee’s recommendations, and the school changes its name to “The Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design”.

Bezalel Academy is awarded the status of an institution of higher education and recognition thereof as an academic institution - graduates of the Fine Arts, Jewelry and Ceramics Departments receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) degree and graduates of Graphic Design, Environmental and Industrial Design Departments receive a Bachelor of Design (B. Des.) degree.

A request is submitted to have the curricular program of the Photography Department recognized as a program for a Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) degree. The review committee headed by Professor Mansfeld submits a favourable recommendation.

The Environmental and Industrial Design Department splits into two independent departments. Bezalel submits a request to allow the Environmental Design Department to award an academic degree in Architecture.

All of Bezalel’s departments and administrative offices move to a newly constructed building on Mount Scopus campus.

For the first time in Bezalel’s history, a Bachelor of Architecture (B. Arch.) degree is awarded to those who completed the five-year curricular program at the new Architecture Department. The Department relocates to Bezalel's historic building in central Jerusalem.

 As part of Israel’s 50th anniversary celebrations, Bezalel launches the “Continuity & Change” exhibition at the International Congress Center in Jerusalem. The exhibition presents 92 years of Judaica at Bezalel. Exhibition curator and designer is Muli Ben Sasson. Following a year in Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem, the “Continuity & Change” exhibition departs on a world tour.

The Council for Higher Education approves Bezalel’s request to launch a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) program and a Master of Industrial Design (M. Des) Program

The Bezalel Senate authorizes the launching of a Fashion Design Program as part of the curriculum of the Jewelry Design Department, as well as the establishment of the Cinematography, Video & New Media Unit, as the first step toward a four-year diploma program.
Professor Arnon Zuckerman is elected President of Bezalel.

The Executive Committee decides to relocate Bezalel's Mount Scopus campus back to the city center. The Ministerial Committee on Jerusalem Affairs authorizes the allocation of a plot within the Russian Compound for the relocation of Bezalel back to central Jerusalem.

On Bezalel's 100th Anniversary, the President of Israel, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Mayor of Jerusalem attend the opening ceremony of the centennial events and the inauguration of the exhibit on Professor Boris Schatz, founder of Bezalel, at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. The institution renews the "Bezalel Notable Persons" tradition and the first award ceremony takes place at the President's residence together with a reunion of Bezalel alumni with more than 3,000 alumni in attendance.

Bezalel submits its Master of Fine Arts Theory and Policy (M.A.) program to the Council for Higher Education. The Council for Higher Education endorses Bezalel's Bachelor of Screen-Based Arts (B.F.A.) program.

The Council for Higher Education endorses Bezalel's Master of Urban Design program of the Architecture Department.

The Council for Higher Education issues the quality assessment report regarding Bezalel's Architecture Department, prepared by an international committee of specialists. The report compliments Bezalel for its accomplishments and points to the status of the Architecture Department at Bezalel as one of the country's leaders for its intellectual, social and cultural approach.

The Council for Higher Education approves the transfer of the Bezalel Campus to the Russian Compound in central Jerusalem.

Bezalel Academy wins the Council for Higher Education's Shosh Berlinski Schoenfeld Prize for Social Involvement in the Community. A quotation from the Council's reasons: "The Academy has been a leading institution in the field of social involvement in recent years, setting an example for the involvement of academia in the communities at all of the institution's levels and echelons."

The Council for Higher Education authorizes, for the first time in Israel, the opening of an academic orthodox religious extension of Bezalel. The Bezalel Academy assigns the highest degree of importance to expanding the circle of students so that broad and diversified segments of the population, including the orthodox religious population, have the opportunity to be part of the exploration of creative expression.

Bezalel Academy signs a contract with the Jerusalem Development Authority for the establishment of a center for digital media and design and begins operating the Center by offering bachelor's degree and master's degree courses dealing with technology as a tool for creativity. The curriculum combines programs of advanced studies with laboratories that bridge between the various disciplines of design, media and technology.

The Japanese architectural firm SANAA, winners of the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize one of the world's leading architectural firms receive approval for its plans for the Academy's new campus at the Russian Compound in central Jerusalem.
Prof. Adi Stern is appointed President of Bezalel.

Following three years of excavations of the Antiquities Authority on the new campus site, construction of the begins in earnest.
The 2019-20 academic year opens with 2300 students, Bezalel’s largest cohort yet, 500 faculty members and 14 Departments.