Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design is Israel's national school of art. Established in 1906 by Jewish artist and sculptor Boris Schatz, Bezalel is Israel's oldest institution of higher education. The art created by Bezalel's students and professors in the early 1900s is considered the springboard for Israeli visual arts in the 20th century.
Bezalel is currently located at the Mount Scopus campus of Hebrew University of Jerusalem, with the exception of the Architecture department, which is housed in the historic Bezalel building in downtown Jerusalem. In 2009 it was announced that Bezalel will be relocated to a new campus in the Russian Compound, as part of a municipal plan to revive Jerusalem's downtown. The new Bezalel campus is planned by the Tokyo-based award-winning architectural firm SANAA.
The Bezalel School was founded in 1906 by Boris Schatz, who envisaged the creation of a national style of art blending classical Jewish/Middle Eastern and European traditions. The school opened in rented premises on Ethiopia Street. It moved to a complex of buildings constructed in the 1880s surrounded by a crenelated stone wall, owned by a wealthy Arab. In 1907, the property was purchased for Boris Schatz by the Jewish National Fund. Schatz lived on the campus with his wife and children. Bezalel's first class consisted of 30 young art students from Europe who successfully passed the entrance exam. Eliezer Ben Yehuda was hired to teach Hebrew to the students, who hailed from various countries and had no common language. His wife, Hemda Ben-Yehuda, worked as Boris Schatz's secretary.
In addition to traditional sculpture and painting, the school offered workshops that produced decorative art objects in silver, leather, wood, brass, and fabric. Many of the craftsmen were members of the Yemenite Jewish community, which has a long tradition of working in precious metals, as silver- and goldsmithing had been traditional Jewish occupations in Yemen. Yemenite immigrants were also frequent subjects of Bezalel artists.
Many of the students went on to become well-known artists, among them Meir Gur Aryeh, Ze'ev Raban, Shmuel Ben David, Ya'ackov Ben-Dov, Zeev Ben-Zvi, Jacob Eisenberg, Jacob Pins, Jacob Steinhardt and Hermann Struck 
In 1912, Bezalel had one female student, Marousia (Miriam) Nissenholtz, who used the pseudonym Chad Gadya.
Bezalel closed in 1929 in the wake of financial difficulties. After Hitler's rise to power, Bezalel's board of directors asked Joseph Budko who had fled Germany in 1933, to reopen it and serve as its director. The New Bezalel School for Arts and Crafts opened in 1935, attracting many teachers and students from Germany, many of them from the Bauhaus school shut down by the Nazis. Budko recruited Jakob Steinhardt and Mordecai Ardon to teach at the school, and both succeeded him as directors.
In 1958, the first year that the prize was awarded to an organization, Bezalel won the Israel Prize for painting and sculpture.
In 1969, Bezalel became a state-supported institution. In 1975 it was recognized by the Council for Higher Education in Israel as an institute of higher education. It completed its relocation to Mount Scopus in 1990.
Bezalel developed a distinctive style of art, known as the Bezalel school, which portrayed Biblical and Zionist subjects in a style influenced by the European jugendstil (art nouveau) and traditional Persian and Syrian art. The artists blended "varied strands of surroundings, tradition and innovation," in paintings and craft objects that invokes "biblical themes, Islamic design and European traditions," in their effort to "carve out a distinctive style of Jewish art" for the new nation they intended to build in the ancient Jewish homeland.
In 2006, the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design celebrated its 100th anniversary. Today, it is located on Mount Scopus in Jerusalemand has 1,500 students. Faculties include Fine Arts, Architecture, Ceramic Design, Industrial Design, Jewelry, Photography, Visual Communication, Animation, Film, and Art History & Theory. The architecture campus is in downtown Jerusalem, in the historic Bezalel building. Bezalel offers Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.), Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.), Bachelor of Design (B.Des.) degrees, a Master of Fine Arts in conjunction with Hebrew University, and two different Master of Design (M.des) degrees.
The academy has plans to move back to the city center.