Sal Mancini.

Sal Mancini, carpenter and Artisan’s Wood Shop Lead, building layout tables for gown production.

Courtesy of Artisan’s Asylum

Campus & Community

An Asylum in Allston

3 min read

Nonprofit artisans’ group will use Harvard property to make PPE gowns

Harvard University on Tuesday welcomed Artisan’s Asylum, a local nonprofit arts collaborative, to Allston, where it will make medical gowns used as personal protective equipment (PPE). The gowns will be used in nonsurgical settings such as dentists, hospitals, and even child care centers.

The Asylum, which calls itself “an inclusive refuge for teaching, learning, and practice of fabrication” maintains workshops for artisans in a range of specialties, including woodworking, jewelry, and 3D printing. When the novel coronavirus shut down most businesses and organizations across the state, its members and volunteers turned to making gowns, face masks, and mask-making tools. This week’s move will bring that work to Harvard-owned space at 100 Holton St. as part of the University’s supportive response to the pandemic, while the Somerville location returns its focus to artwork.

The new agreement will allow Artisan’s Asylum to immediately scale up and expand its production capabilities. It hopes to shift its focus exclusively to gowns and aims to produce 30,000 more over the coming months.

“Harvard is thrilled to welcome the Artisan’s Asylum to the neighborhood, and incredibly excited to help support this important endeavor of contributing to the greater good,” said Meredith Weenick, Harvard’s vice president for campus services. “This new collaboration is in line with Harvard’s ongoing commitment to supporting creative and artistic innovation. We’re excited to see where these new efforts lead.”

“Support from Harvard University is really encouraging for us,” said Lars Hasselblad Torres, executive director of Artisan’s Asylum. “To be given shelter by this esteemed institution in a time of need — for us as an organization and for the community as a whole — it’s a remarkable partnership for which I am very grateful. Our team is excited to get to work.”

“Artisan’s Asylum has been an important part of the Boston arts scene for years, and we are thrilled that they are establishing a presence” in Allston, said Joyce Linehan, chief of policy and planning for Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. “We are grateful to Harvard for seeing the possibilities, and pleased that Artisan’s first initiative in their new space addresses the community needs in the current crisis.”

Harvard continues to support Allston’s robust artist community and to bring a diverse mix of uses in the neighborhood. From classes, performances, and opportunities at the Harvard Ed Portal, Ceramics Program, and Zone 3 to the newly opened ArtLab, the plan to create a state-of-the-art facility for the A.R.T., its ongoing support of local artists through programs such as the Ed Portal’s Pop Up Portal market and Zone3’s Pop Up Artist Shop, the University is committed to ensuring that the arts remain central to its campus in Allston.

Artisan’s Asylum is currently working with the Harvard Ed Portal, the City of Boston’s Office of Returning Citizens, the Roxbury Center for Financial Empowerment, and a growing list of community partners. To learn more about the Artisan’s Asylum and its PPE efforts, visit