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Use Hearing Protection: The early years of Factory Records

Celebrate Manchester's place at the heart of Britain's music and creative industries with our new exhibition dedicated to one of the city's most influential record labels.

This special exhibition tells the story of Factory Records' formative years from 1978 to 1982, and how their innovative work in music, technology and design gave 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. 

See the first 50 artefacts from the official Factory catalogue, including creations from Joy Division, New Order and The Durutti Column, as well as graphic designs by Peter Saville, previously unseen items from the Factory archives, and objects loaned from the estates of both Tony Wilson and Rob Gretton, the former manager of Joy Division and New Order.  Also on public display for the first time in 30 years is Ian Curtis’s Vox Phantom guitar, played live and featured in the official Love Will Tear Us Apart video.   

Immerse yourself in the world of Factory Records and experience a night out like no other with our tribute to The Factory night at the Russell Club. Just plug in and play—bring your own headphones and create your own unique versions of iconic tracks with our synthesizer and mixing desk. Explore how the city lived and how music brought people together with crowdsourced photographs from the People’s Archive.  

Use Hearing Protection: The early years of Factory Records is a new exhibition, reinterpreting the display hosted at Chelsea Space, London in 2019. The development of new content for Use Hearing Protection: The early years of Factory Records was carried out by the Science and Industry Museum with the support of Jon Savage and Mat Bancroft, and Stuart Wheeley at Warner Music UK. 

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