Michael Jackson Exhibit Open Through Sunday

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This is it: a mind-blowing collection of thousands of items related to performer Michael Jackson, briefly on display in Wilmington, to demonstrate the power of innovation. With some help from God.

The pop-up shrine occurred because “Michael Jackson was an innovator,” said ACT Generation Global Center founder Travis Smith. “And we consider this [center] to be an innovation.”

Smith, a 44-year-old information technology veteran, had been downsized by AstraZeneca in 2014 when he created ACT Generation as “Delaware’s first private business trade school of audio, communication and technology.” It also provides consulting services and technical support to “enable, empower and equip” businesses, religious groups and nonprofits. And it develops websites and videos.

The Delaware native is a serial entrepreneur (at age 13, he co-founded the Russell Delegation choir) and music fan – “as a young person, the arts kept me from being a rascal”

During recent video production work, he met Sicklerville, New Jersey, entrepreneur Ryan O’Neil, who had been collecting Michael Jackson memorabilia for 37 years, since he was 8. O’Neil was interested in displaying his collection for the first time.

“Really, God put it all together,” Smith said.

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Smith figures the display includes 5,000 items from O’Neil’s collection, which, as the largest on the East Coast, has thousands of other items that didn’t fit into available space at 715 N. Orange St.

The exhibition is timed to promote the business, the school and its students.

In early July, ACT Generation is launching eDiscipleship, which Smith called “a Facebook for churches” and Act Boom, a website for all sorts of video.

Smith later this summer will start shooting in Wilmington “All Good in the Hood,” a sitcom about urban life developed with Evan Smith, whose TV writing career goes back 20 years, and Maureen Carter, a BET Networks vice president. A season of eight 30-minute episodes has been written.

ACT teachers will be on hand to chat up the school, which started classes on March 1. It emphasizes media design, social media and e-commerce. Short workshops start at $69, Smith said. Weeks-long boot camps start at $3,000. Find details at http://poweredbyact.com. Two graduates – portraitist Ben Hawkins and feather-jewelry maker Heather Wood – are launching online businesses they developed in classes.

The pop-up exhibit is open 3 to 9 p.m. Thursday, noon to 9 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children. Colonial Parking, which is headquartered on the building’s first floor, offers free parking for visitors in lots next door and at Sixth and Orange streets.

It looks like a cutting-edge gallery, with clean, white walls carving the 10,000-square-foot space into interesting shapes. That design comes from BSA + A, an architectural firm now on the Riverfront.

One room features records and another, products for kids. A mini-arcade stars Jackson’s “Moonwalker” game.

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There are smaller groupings of CDs, books and magazine covers, but the reasons to go are random items, like several platinum and gold albums, family photos (O’Neil met Jackson and continues to be in touch with family members), tour jackets, posters, a silver-sequin glove, that same glove miniaturized as jewelry, a box of Honeycomb cereal with the Jackson 5 on the cover, buttons, pins, trading cards, drumsticks, a Motownopoly game, a life-size cardboard cut-out and a life-size photo for selfies.

One excited visitor is Vernay Lewis, East Coast chapter leader of King of Pops Fanatics. After sharing collecting experiences with O’Neil on Tuesday, she especially wants to see his picture discs, promotional items, rare magazines and the arcade game.

“Everything really,” she said.

DJ Nitty Gritty of Newark will spin from the King of Pop’s catalogue all weekend, and videos will play in the children’s room. People who text “ACT Generation” to 95577 get a chance at giveaways. Smith is touting a hashtag – #ABC2ACT – connecting a Jackson single to the business. All told, it’s a multimedia experience benefitting a performer who experimented in multiple media.

Jackson videos such as “Torture” were groundbreaking.

“They brought the magic to video,” ACT Generation vice president Jamil White said.

Or you could say they were a thriller.

Sources: Delaware Online |  All Things Michael

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