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.

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