How Many Makerspaces?

A fire closes SF's Humanmade

Happylab makerspace in Vienna

Welcome to Make Things, a weekly newsletter for the Maker community. This issue is devoted to makerspaces. This newsletter lives on the web at

Table of Contents

How Many?

How many makerspaces are there in the world? In the U.S.? By makerspace, we mean anything that functions as such, including Fab Labs and hackerspaces. “How many makerspaces?” has been asked over and over by any writer doing a story on the maker movement, wondering just how many there are. There also have been several quixotic efforts to compile a complete list of makerspaces. I’ll talk about our renewed effort below.

Any answer we come up with is a guess at this point. I put the question to How many makerspace are there globally? It replied with hesitation:

“There isn't a single, definitive source that tracks all the makerspaces, fab labs and hackerspaces in the world, but estimates range in the thousands. Here's a breakdown of individual counts:

  • Makerspaces: There are likely over 2,000 makerspaces globally.

  • Fab Labs: The Fab Lab network lists over 1,500 affiliated labs worldwide

  • Hackerspaces: There are estimated to be more than 2,000 hackerspaces around the world

Summing these up, there are an estimated 5,500 makerspaces, fab labs and hackerspaces in the world. It's important to remember that this is an estimate, and the true number may be higher or lower.”

How are makerspaces doing?

Last week, I had a conversation with the director of a professional makerspace and he wondered if a lot of makerspaces had closed during Covid. Like many, he questioned whether the model of makerspaces was working or not. Of course there are different kinds of makerspaces — and even within the category, they may operate differently. Like many businesses as well as non-profits, creating and managing a makerspace is hard work.

I answered that some makerspaces had closed during Covid but many managed to get through it and a few of them, like NoVa Labs in Fairfax, Virginia and Fab Lab Tulsa, emerged stronger. (See my interview with Jim Sweeney of NoVa Labs about running a community makerspace.) Any combination of factors can lead to a community makerspace closing, such as not enough members, cost of rent, the management or mismanagement of the space, etc. A story in Worcester Magazine on the closure of WorcShop after eight years touches on many of these reasons. The story quoted cofounder Randolph Gardner:

It was definitely an ambitious dream, but ultimately — after a tumultuous move from Stafford Street in Worcester, followed immediately by the COVID-19 pandemic and clashes with the town of Leicester over permits and zoning — it came to an end, and the WorcShop quietly ended operations on Feb. 3.

Open Works, a nonprofit makerspace in Baltimore announced this week that they are opening a second site in collaboration with Coppin State. Will Holman, Executive Director, said that they had received commitments of $4M in funds from state government and a community development organization. As part of its agreement with Coppin State, students and faculty will be able to use the new space. Coppin State will also offer a minor in “Makerspace Management,” which Holman believes is the first of its kind in the nation.

Will Holman of Open Works and Dr. Ron Williams of Coppin State (photo by Mr. Chip Dizard)

Makerspaces embedded in libraries and museums generally did better than standalone makerspaces because they were seen as a part of larger mission of the organization. The Octavia Lab at Los Angeles Public Library is a good example. I continue to see announcements about makerspaces at universities that make me think there is continued growth in that area.

I’m not sure about K-12 schools. Private schools, yes. Public schools are mixed. Last year, I talked to Michael Stone who leads a Fab Lab network of 34 high schools in Hamilton County, Tennessee. Some school makerspaces are sitting dormant because a teacher that was the champion of the makerspace retired or took a job at another school. Schools seem to be regressing in some ways, going back to basics and cutting our programs that might be perceived as student enrichment.

I was heartened by the story this week of students at Milford High School in Ohio launching a petition drive to keep their makerspace open after the school board announced it would be closed due to budget cuts. A student identified as Cramer said of the makerspace: “It’s the safe spot I have in the school. I know every day when I walk in there that I will be completely fine. Everything’s going to be great, and there’s always someone who will greet me at the door.” Cramer added: “I was devastated to hear the Makerspace was being cut despite so much effort from all our community to keep the place.”

A New Makerspace Directory

At Make, we first created a makerspace directory in 2013. Its original goal was to survey makerspaces and use some of the data in a “Make A Makerspace” workshop we co-created with Artisan’s Asylum in Somerville, MA. We haven’t had the resources to maintain the directory over the years and there were other volunteer or funded efforts to compile a comprehensive directory, but they seem to have petered out.

So, we decided to refresh our directory on with the purpose of helping people find a makerspace near them and trying to keep track of this network of makerspaces. The site has a map that shows makerspaces near you and a grid of makerspaces with basic information for each one.

screenshot from

Make staffer, Jamie Agius, went through the existing data and verified whether the makerspace existed or not, and we removed those that we believe had closed. The directory lists 716 makerspaces, 460 of which are in the US. Here’s the breakdown.

Total Makerspaces: 716

  • 310 - Community

  • 47 - College/University

  • 43 - K-12 Schools

  • 79 - Library

  • 2 - Fablab

  • 235 - uncategorized

Uncategorized means that information about the type of makerspace was not provided on the original form.  Obviously, we don’t have many Fab Labs in the directory and the Fab Labs list has about 2500 entries. (A Fab Census was last done in 2019.) We’ll reach out to the Fab Foundation.

According to the wiki, “There are currently 2501 hackerspaces listed in this wiki, 790 of them are marked as active and 356 as planned.”

So between the two sources, you could estimate 3300 such spaces worldwide, if there’s no overlap between the two lists and it’s possible that makerspaces are not on either of those lists. We just don’t have very good information — 4000 is perhaps the upper limit in 2024 and around 1000 is likely the lower limit.

Request: If you are a member of a makerspace, or better yet, if you manage one, please check to see if we have your space in the directory and edit the information so that it is accurate. If your space is not on the list, please add it. Please help us collect better data on makerspaces globally.

Fire Closes Humanmade Makerspace in SF

There were reports that Human Made in San Francisco had burned down. I reached out to Ryan Spurlock, the Executive Director of Humanmade and it turns out the initial reports were wrong but still there was plenty of damage.

Humanmade before the fire

Ryan told me that on Sunday night, one of the power strips underneath a central workstation caught fire. Ryan doesn’t think anything was plugged into it and the fire department told him that the strip just overheated. The power strip was located under a central table and the fire burned things around the table. However, the sprinklers went on and it could not put out the fire under the table, so the sprinklers kept going off, flooding the whole space. Water damage and smoke damage affected the whole space, requiring the closing of the space.

Destroyed in the fire were ten new high-end 3D printers that Human Made had purchased for workforce development classes. The large tools were not damaged. “No one was hurt,” said Ryan with relief. Nobody was in the building because the makerspace closed at 6pm on Sunday. The fire likely happened around midnight. Humanmade also serves as an incubator for small businesses and all of them will have to find other places to work. Ryan said that one of them lost a robot prototype in the fire.

Humanmade will be closed for several weeks and possibly more than a month because of the scope of the clean-up efforts. They have set up a GoFundMe, trying to raise money to get through this period now that they’ve lost ability to bring in their usual revenue. Ryan hopes to be able to maintain the Humanmade staff.

It’s hard enough keeping a makerspace going, and then the unexpected happens. Last summer, I visited Happylab, a makerspace in Vienna, and they also had a fire, right after they moved into their new building. A maker had set up a project on the laser cutter and then went out for lunch. When he returned, there were five fire trucks outside the building. Happy Lab recovered and is doing well.

I’d love to hear about your makerspace. Email me - [email protected].