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First Person

Behind the scenes at the Peabody Essex Museum’s new Maker Lounge

Juliette Fritsch is overseeing a space in Salem aimed at helping teens and young adults create something bold.

Juliette Fritsch. Joanne Rathe/Globe staff/Boston Globe

We were really interested in having a space where people could explore creative problem solving. You might have heard about the maker movement, a growing grass-roots movement, which is about technology-based exploration of DIY culture.

It’s something I personally have been thinking about for years. My father was an architect, but he also was an artist, and when he was young, in the 1960s, he built computers. He never had that distinction between being an artist or doing things digitally or making things.

When you walk into the Maker Lounge, you’ll see a whole range of materials from different kinds of woods and textiles to littleBits kits, which have circuit boards and electronic components. There are going to be work tables and iPads and a large area with comfortable seating. There will be drawing materials and tools that you can’t hurt yourself with. And when we have workshops, we’ll have laptops and other things.

Anybody can wander in. There will be design and creativity challenges for you to do. And a “takeover space,” where we collaborate with really interesting organizations like the MIT Media Lab and Formlabs, which make desktop 3-D printers.


We hope the Maker Lounge will especially attract young adults and older teenagers, 16 to 30. We’re quite interested in setting up teen lounges for some evenings. And we’re also exploring doing a Maker camp in the summer.

We’ve decided to [set up the lounge] in our East India Marine Hall, which is the original building of the museum. The kind of merchants who sailed around world and first established PEM, they were incredibly innovative — not just in terms of how they were designing new ships and new ways to navigate, but they were encountering all this new stuff on the other side of the world and bringing it back and introducing it here. It’s a perpetual circle of innovation.  — As told to Joel Brown (Interview has been edited and condensed.)


SEE IT Fritsch, the chief of education and interpretation for Salem’s Peabody Essex Museum, says the Maker Lounge will open March 29. 978-745-9500;