Campus & Buildings

What on the Farm? Wooden Drum Sculptures

Posted by Holly Brough
Director of Communications

As you approach the Farm Barn on our walking trail, you’re greeted by a lineup of wooden poles topped by sculpted heads both human and animal. They’ve entertained, surprised, and perhaps puzzled visitors for some time. 

The careved poles are actually wooden drums, created by local artist and musician Jerry Geier, and they have a history with the Farm dating back to 2007. That year, Jerry temporarily installed some of his hand-carved drums along the south seawall, as part of Shelburne Farms’ annual art exhibition. 

Two years later, his work appeared at the Firehouse Gallery in Burlington as part of the Quadricentennial.  A review in Seven Days at the time explains the works: 

Topped by the carved heads of spirits, humans, and animals, the roughly hewn drums resonate warmly when struck; while carving them, Geier taped and tuned the logs at every stage. The effigy heads contain various materials, including terra cotta and wood, and fascinating details. Rows of horizontal bands cut into many of the drums allow the drums to be played like large gueros [sic]; others are tied together with ropes, and some feature woodblock prints. Geier’s installation exemplifies visual art with a world beat.

Jerry installed the drums on the trail up to Lone Tree Hill later that year. With their wild animal and forest themes, they seemed an appropriate addition. In 2010, a larger second array went up along the Farm Barn trail.

According to Jerry, the work examines “the convergence of people from all walks of life and cultures, communicating through the universal language of music,” and celebrates “the relationships between the Earth and all of its inhabitants.” It’s a fitting message at the Farm, so enjoy them next time you pass by. And give them a tap!

The smaller set of drums near the shelter on the trail to Lone Tree Hill.

Also on your walk, be sure to visit the genuine Abenaki totem behind the Farm Barn. 


Submitted by Andrea Rogers on Thu , 08/27/2020 - 08:06 PM

Love the drum sculptures. Would love to hear them or be invited to play them. I bet I am not alone, but I have walked by them countless times and not known they were drums. Thank you Gerry Geier.

Submitted by Jess Ryan on Tue , 06/18/2024 - 08:03 PM

Wonderful! A peaceful powerful art installation and legacy.

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