Exhibition preview: Use Hearing Protection: The Early Years Of Factory Records

Manchester-based independent record label Factory Records was founded in 1978 by Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus and the impossible dream of many idealists, radicals and aspirational upstarts. The label featured some incredibly important acts on their roster, including Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays and James. In partnership with New Order, the label also ran iconic nightclub The Haçienda. Now, the story behind its remarkable beginnings is reborn, expanded and re-evaluated.

We are walking Factory Records’ roads less travelled with a collection of rare artefacts, books, film, music and more in Manchester’s Science and Industry Museum. The exhibition will last from Saturday the 19th of June 2021 until Monday the 3rd of January 2022 and includes stories told through family members, the label’s female voices and international collaborators. Visitors can also get hands-on with technologies of the time by using a mixing desk to create their own take on an original Factory Records’ track, and feel as though they’re part of the recording of ‘Unknown Pleasures’ by experimenting with a synthesiser. Audiences will need to bring their own headphones to plug in and play.

The exhibition focuses on the years 1978 – 1982 and reveals more of both the history and the legacy of the label as a consumer of and catalyst for innovation in the UK’s music and wide creative industries. Use Hearing Protection: The Early Years Of Factory Records has been curated by the Science and Industry Museum in association with consultant curators, the journalist, author and artist, Jon Savage and curator and archivist, Mat Bancroft, and Warner Music UK.

Jan Hicks, lead curator of the exhibition at the Science and Industry Museum, says: “This is an unmissable exhibition for anyone eager to explore the origins of this influential label and its long-lasting legacy. The early years of Factory Records did so much to influence the city and the UK’s creative industries today, and this exhibition explores why Factory’s unique development could only have happened in Manchester at this time and involving this group of people.

You can book your tickets and find more information on the exhibition here.

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