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06 April 2022

British Pop Archive Set To Celebrate Manchester’s Musical Heritage

British Pop Archive - Joy Division live debut
Alamy Stock Photo
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The British Pop Archive (BPA), a national collection dedicated to the preservation and research of popular culture, is set to open at The University of Manchester’s John Rylands Research Institute and Library.

The BPA will celebrate and preserve British popular music and other aspects of popular culture, recognising its influence on the world stage. Working with the celebrated music journalist and broadcaster Jon Savage – who was recently appointed as Professor of Popular Culture at The University of Manchester – the BPA has ambitious plans to build on its current collection and create a comprehensive representation of British popular culture.

On 19 May 2022 the British Pop Archive will launch with Collection, an exhibition set to underline why Manchester is the perfect home for the British Pop Archive. Curated by Mat Bancroft, Jon Savage and Hannah Barker, it explores the vibrant cultural scene of a city that has driven innovation, creativity and social progress.

The exhibition features iconic items from British pop history, many of which have never been seen by the public. Highlights include personal items relating to The Smiths, New Order, The Haçienda, Factory Records, Granada Television and Joy Division, such as Ian Curtis’s original handwritten lyrics for ‘She’s Lost Control’.

Professor Christopher Pressler, John Rylands University Librarian and Director of The University of Manchester Library, said: “The British Pop Archive is part of our desire to reach into areas not always associated with major research libraries, including pop music, popular culture, counter-culture, television and film. This is a national archive held in Manchester, one of the most important centres of modern culture in the world.”

Jon Savage, Professor of Popular Culture, added: “Britain’s pop and youth culture has been transmitted worldwide for nearly sixty years now. As the most fertile and expressive product of post war democratic consumerism, it has a long and inspiring history that is in danger of being under-represented in museums and libraries. The intention of the BPA is to be a purpose-built, pop and youth culture archive that reflects the riches of the post war period running to the present day. We are launching with Manchester-centric collections but the intention is for the BPA to be a national resource encompassing the whole UK: it is, after all, the British Pop Archive.”

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