About the project
The Bezalel Academy of Art & Design was founded in 1906 by Professor Boris Schatz, a Lithuanian-born Jew and Paris-trained sculptor who headed the Royal Academy of Art in Sofia, Bulgaria. The academy–Israel’s oldest institution of higher learning–was established to help foster the development of visual arts that would synthesize European, Jewish and local artistic traditions as the Jewish state emerged. The academy was named for the biblical figure Bezalel (literally “in the shadow of God”), who, according to Jewish tradition, was the master craftsman selected by God to be the chief architect of the desert tabernacle. Over the years, the academy has grown into one of the most prominent institution of fine arts, design and architecture in Israel. It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in fine arts, architecture, ceramics, industrial design, jewelry, photography, visual communications, animation, video and film and history and theory. The Jerusalem Foundation supported renovations to the academy’s Gold and Silversmithing Department in the 1970s and supported activities in connection with the academy’s move from the City Center to the Hebrew University Mount Scopus campus in the early 1980s. In 2005, the Foundation supported the UNESCO Chair in Urban Design and Conservation Studies within the academy’s Department of Architecture. In 2006, it established the Lea Cheshin Memorial Scholarships for Students of Painting and Sketching. It has also supported a program to enable disadvantaged high school students to study at the academy. In 2007, the academy’s original site was renovated to return the institution to the City Center and to create an arts complex includes the adjacent Jerusalem Artists’ House and the Boris Schatz House.