Launch of British Pop Archive and ‘Collection’ exhibition

Luminaries from the worlds of pop culture and academia flooded the John Rylands Research Institute & Library earlier this month to celebrate the launch of the British Pop Archive (BPA) and the exhibition ‘Collection’. The 200 guests included musician Johnny Marr, actor Maxine Peake, Gillian Gilbert from New Order and broadcaster and writer Mark Radcliffe.

Guests heard Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell say that no other city has produced so many singers, bands and musicians in the field of popular music. It is therefore entirely appropriate that this national collection should be located here in Manchester.

Professor Christopher Pressler, John Rylands University Librarian and Director of The University of Manchester Library spoke movingly about how the music of the Pet Shop Boys and New Order enabled him to escape the grim realities of life in Belfast during the 1980s.

Newly appointed Professor of Popular Culture Jon Savage talked about how the BPA was the realisation of a dream come true for him personally. Noting the important UK youth movements that have influenced style, art, design and most notably how pop can be a beacon of expression for all. He also acknowledged the launch date of 18 May as the anniversary of the death of Joy Division writer and singer Ian Curtis, noting how thrilled he believed Ian Curtis would be to have his writings in the John Rylands Research Institute and Library.

Hannah Barker, Professor of British History, thanked the many people involved in bringing the project and exhibition to fruition from the staff within the Library and across the University, the donors, patrons and public supporters all who have been instrumental in creating such a strong brand and launch for the British Pop Archive.

We hope that the BPA will touch the lives of today’s students and the wider community, as well as offering limitless possibilities for research into popular culture.

‘Collection’ is open until 15 January 2023.