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Groundhog Archaeology

Date: May 18, 2023
Time: 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Location: Filson Historical Society (In-Person and Zoom Options)

Cost: Free for Members; $15 for non-members

Patrick Donley discovered a 19th century midden (dump) beneath his warehouse/studio, thanks to a groundhog named Phyllis. He’s been excavating and photographing the finds for the last 4 years.

Literally thousands of household items deposited at the site for close to 30 years by nearby families and businesses have been unearthed through the excavations. The dump was shut down in the early 1920’s and the warehouse was constructed atop the bits and shards of history.

And now, that warehouse will become a museum that will house the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century artifacts unearthed from this neighborhood midden. Through its permanent collection and revolving exhibitions partnered with related entities, the Museum will serve as an educational institution, living memorial and bridge between today’s world and working-class immigrant American life at the dawn of the 20th century. The Mary Street Midden is rich with clues about the last major influenza epidemic, Louisville distilling and brewing, and early glass manufacture for beverages and patent medicines.  Dinnerware, toys and tools all tell a story about everyday existence. Through the exploration of the refuse of the past, we may gain greater insight into how our waste impacts the world today.

Patrick Donley is a painter, sculptor, musician, and now accidental archeologist, who has made his reputation with his colorful, abstract paintings and quirky found object sculpture. He has a BA from Davidson College in painting, and an MFA from Northwestern University in painting and drawing.  He is very proud to have been a longtime owner of Zephyr Gallery, and is looking forward to this new chapter in his life.