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New exhibition celebrates Manchester's music revolution

Manchester's place at the heart of Britain's music and creative industries is being celebrated with a new exhibition dedicated to one of the city’s most influential record labels.

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The Science and Industry Museum has today launched tickets for Use Hearing Protection: the early years of Factory Records—a new exhibition that will celebrate the initial works of this seminal record label and its fundamental role in Manchester's music revolution. It will run from 3 July 2020 to 10 January 2021.

This special exhibition tells the story of Factory Records' formative years from 1978–82, and how it used innovation in the fields of music, technology and design to give Manchester an authentic voice and distinctive identity. Founded by Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus, the label played an influential part in the city's transformation from an industrial powerhouse to a beacon of art and culture, and continues to impact current-day creative industries. 

Visitors will be guided on a journey of the label's early work through a display of the first 50 numbered Factory artefacts. These include creations from Joy Division, New Order and The Durutti Column, as well as graphic designer Peter Saville, whose visuals are synonymous with the label. 

The exhibition will also provide exclusive access to previously unseen products from the Factory archives. Through a series of engaging and interactive displays, it will amplify the stories of Manchester's unique culture that gave rise to a new wave of creative industries in the North West.  

Use Hearing Protection has been curated by the Science and Industry Museum in association with consultant curators, Jon Savage and Mat Bancroft. Savage is a lead voice on the history of Joy Division, and the Science Museum Group, of which SIM is a member, has recently acquired his personal collection of artefacts relating to the band. A number of these will be on display alongside objects loaned from the estates of both Tony Wilson and Rob Gretton, the former manager of Joy Division and New Order. 

Jan Hicks, lead curator of the exhibition at the Science and Industry Museum, said:

This is a story that the Science and Industry Museum is uniquely placed to tell. Factory Records was hugely influenced by Manchester's industrial heritage, which we sit at the heart of. It was also progressive in its use of digital and electronic technologies, which are again core focuses of the stories we tell here at the museum. 

"We are committed to expanding our collection of Factory-related material, and acquiring Jon Savage's Joy Division archive has allowed us to grow this substantially. It will be a fantastic addition to the exhibition, which is a must-see for anyone who has an interest in the unique culture of our city."

Use Hearing Protection at the Science and Industry Museum is a new exhibition. It reinterprets the original that was previously hosted at Chelsea Space, London, in partnership with Jon Savage, Mat Bancroft and Warner Music UK. 

Jon Savage said:

"There’s a direct link between Joy Division and Manchester in their music. The album, Unknown Pleasures, really helped me to make sense of the city when I first came here and understand the developments that were giving it a new identity.  

"Factory as a whole has a deep relationship with Manchester's industrial past. In Tony's collection I found a record sleeve made with sandpaper from one of the city's factories, which I think illustrates this beautifully. 

"For me, it's always been essential that the materials I've collected go to institutions rather than individuals. That way, they can be enjoyed by everyone, particularly young people, who can use them to understand the unique personality of Manchester for themselves." 

The exhibition will be located on the first floor of the Science and Industry Museum. Tickets will go on sale at 10.00 on Tuesday 14 January 2020 and will be priced at £7 for adults and £5 for concessions, with under 12s going free.


For more information, please contact communications manager, Alex Urmston, on 0161 606 0160/



The Science and Industry Museum tells the story of where science met industry and the modern world began. Manchester was one of the first global industrial cities, and its epic rise, decline and resurrection has been echoed in countless other cities around the world.

From textiles to computers, the objects and documents on display in the museum tell stories of everyday life over the last 200 years, from light bulbs to locomotives.  The museum's mission is to inspire all its visitors, including future scientists and inventors, with the story of how ideas can change the world, from the industrial revolution to today and beyond.

The Science and Industry Museum site is on the site of the Liverpool Road Station terminus of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, the world's first purpose-built passenger railway. Among its internationally significant buildings are the world's first passenger railway station and the oldest existing railway goods warehouse. In total there are two Grade I listed buildings and four Grade II listed buildings on the site.

The Science and Industry Museum is part of the Science Museum Group (SMG), a family of museums which also includes the Science Museum in London; the National Railway Museum in York and Shildon; and the Science and Media Museum in Bradford. The Science Museum Group is devoted to the history and contemporary practice of science, medicine, technology, industry and media. With 5 million visitors each year and an unrivalled collection, it is the most significant group of museums of science and innovation worldwide.