Conservation of the Spirit of Gaiety

In the shape of a trumpet-playing angel, the Spirit of Gaiety is a rare surviving example of wooden architectural sculpture, beautifully carved and gilded. Discover how this magnificent statue has been restored to its former glory by V&A Conservators and Scientists.

Made in 1904 by Hibbert C. Binney, the gilded wooden angel, known as the Spirit of Gaiety, once stood atop the Gaiety Theatre in London's west-end, at the junction of Aldwych and the Strand. In 1984, she found a new home at the V&A. Years of exposure to rainwater had left her internal framework heavily corroded and woodwork weakened – urgent structural work was required to prevent her collapse. This film follows Zoe Allen, Head of the Furniture Conservation Studio at the V&A, as she leads an extensive treatment programme to restore Gaiety, replacing the statue's internal structure, strengthening rotten woodwork and reinstating her brilliant gilded surface.

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The restored Spirit of Gaiety is visible to visitors from the end of the Paintings galleries.