THE entrance for vehicles at The Bowes Museum will be shut overnight so it can meet security requirements and continue to host prestigious exhibitions.

The Barnard Castle museum will begin closing its main vehicular access gates from 5pm until 8am nightly from Saturday, October 26, but pedestrian access gates will remain open at all times, so people can still walk into the parkland.

A public meeting will be held at Barnard Castle Methodist Church Hall, on Scar Top, next Wednesday, October 16, at 6pm, so residents and stakeholders can hear about the plans in detail and ask questions.

Museum bosses have already said the move is necessary to comply with major funder Arts Council England's guidelines, to secure government indemnity insurance for loans from other museums worldwide and to enhance the security of the collection.

This means the Museum will be capable of building on its acclaimed exhibition programme by being able to continue to borrow high quality art and objects which draw visitors to the area.

Adrian Jenkins, the director of The Bowes Museum, said: “The grounds will remain open to pedestrians, cyclists and dog walkers. This is a necessary step we’ve had to take to ensure we can maintain and secure our reputation as a home for world class exhibitions. The gates will be opened for special events like exhibition previews and the Castle Players performances and the details of these opening times will be publicised on our website.”

People wishing to drive to the Museum outside of hours will be able to park near the back or front of the grounds and use the pedestrian gates.

The Friends of The Bowes Museum has funded the entire upgrade and conservation of the listed entrance gates. Middleton Forge is carrying out work on the gates to make them operational, Chris Leach from Q-Dec will enhance their decoration and Glasper Tunstall Stonemasonry is restoring two of the stone pillars.

New signs will display the opening and closing times of the main vehicular gates.