FRIENDS of The Bowes Museum have just one week to raise £21,000 to restore a 15th century renaissance masterpiece.

A final plea for donations has been made as many become increasingly anxious about the looming deadline.

More than £10,500 has already been pledged by 122 donors, but the crowd funding method stipulates that unless the full amount is raised, no money will be donated.

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Caroline Peacock, chairman of The Friends of Bowes, said: “When people donate in this way, they feel a sense of personal identity with the success. There aren’t many ways you can fund great art in this kind of way.”

The large wooden altarpiece, which depicts the arrest, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, sits on the wall in the museum, concealing the paintings that are on the back.

Painted by the Master of the View of St Godule, the work of art has been on display since museum founders John and Josephine Bowes bought the piece in 1859.

If the target is reached the restoration project will reveal the six hidden paintings, reattach wooden pillars that are in storage, and elevate it to recreate how the piece would have been displayed above the altar in a church.

Mrs Peacock added: “We want to build a whole new frame so that we can open and close the shutters. There are three carved figures that have been in storage for the past three years.”

Alison Nicholson, digital communications and fundraising officer, said: “It would mean a lot to the museum as it’s a very important piece in the religious art collection.

“There is always something that we need to do in the museum, so this is our one chance to do this. It’s now or never.”

Mrs Nicholson organised a similar crowd-funding project earlier in the year for a separate piece of art and surpassed the target of £6,000 raising £8,600.

If the project goes ahead, furniture conservator Rupert McBain will work to restore the artwork starting in September.

There are plans to reveal the newly restored masterpiece around Easter, and the Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, has agreed to unveil the piece.

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