Uncover the story of Factory Records’ formative years from 1978 – 1982 at this new exhibit


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.

Use Hearing Protection: The early years of Factory Records is a new exhibition that will uncover the story of Factory Records’ formative years from 1978 – 1982.

It will celebrate the initial works of this seminal record label and its fundamental role in Manchester’s music revolution.

Running from 3rd July 2020 to 10th January 2021, this special exhibition will tell the story of how the iconic label used innovation in the fields of music, technology and design – and how this innovation ultimately gave Manchester an authentic new voice and 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. It continues to impact creative industries to this day.

A display of the first 50 numbered Factory artefacts will take visitors on a journey through the label’s early work.

These include creations by bands Joy Division, New Order, The Durutti Column, and graphic designer Peter Saville, whose visuals are synonymous with the label.

Visitors will also get exclusive access to previously unseen products from the Factory archives.

Through a series of engaging and interactive displays, Use Hearing Protection: The early years of Factory Records will amplify the stories of Manchester’s unique culture.

The exhibit has been curated by the Museum of Science and Industry 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.

“This is a story that the Science and Industry Museum is uniquely placed to tell,” said Jan Hicks, lead curator of the exhibition.

“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 one which was previously hosted at Chelsea Space, London.

Jon Savage said: “There’s a direct link between Joy Division and Manchester in their music.

“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 second floor of the Science and Industry Museum. Tickets go on sale at 10am on Tuesday 14th January and will be priced at £7 for adults and £5 for concessions. Under-12s go free.



Manchester is a successful city, but there are many people that suffer. The I Love MCR Foundation helps raise vital funds to help improve the lives and prospects of people and communities across Greater Manchester – and we can’t do it without your help. So please donate or fundraise what you can because investing in your local community to help it thrive can be a massively rewarding experience. Thank you in advance!

Got a story worth sharing?

What’s the story? We are all ears when it comes to positive news and inspiring stories. You can send story ideas to [email protected]

Get the Newsletter
Timeless Reads
Latest News
Upcoming Events