COMING SOON: The British Pop Music Archive at John Rylands Library

The library will house a British pop music and culture archive...

By Manchester's Finest | Last updated 20 May 2022

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The University of Manchester’s John Rylands Research Institute & Library has today announced the launch of a British Pop Archive (BPA).

The collection will celebrate and preserve British popular music, plus other aspects of popular culture – so there’ll be British artists and bands, UK television, youth and counter culture movements – all from the mid-Twentieth Century to the modern day.

Working with 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.

Jon said: “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.”

Handwritten Joy Division lyrics // Jo Castle

Set to officially launch on Thursday 19th May with an exhibition – COLLECTION – which will celebrate pop culture from Manchester and the North West.

The exhibition will feature 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’.

Curated by Mat Bancroft, Jon Savage and Hannah Barker, it’ll explore the vibrant cultural scene of a city that has driven innovation, creativity and social progress.

Hannah Barker, Jon Savage and Mat Bancroft // Jill Furmanovsky

Mat Bancroft said: “We launch the British Pop Archive with a Manchester focused exhibition full of unique and unseen artefacts. These materials tell the story of a vibrant city with art, culture and music at its heart.”

“More than that they foreground the creative catalysts, musicians, producers, artists, designers and writers who have instigated this repositioning of landscape – to propose media as the new cultural capital of the city.”


More Info on the Collection

New opening