A VICTORIAN museum has gained £247,050 to update its art galleries as part of a £4.6m Government cash windfall.

The Bowes Museum, in Barnard Castle, is one of 40 museums across England - including five in the North-East and North Yorkshire - to get money.

The funding came from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund.

Staff at the Barnard Castle museum will use the money to help pay for a £350,000 project to upgrade its ceramics galleries.

Jane Whittaker, the museum’s head of collections, said: “Our focus is on completing the refurbishment of the museum to the high standards set by recent displays.

“The aim is that everything we do will match the quality of the collection. We’re delighted to receive this generous award.”

The galleries contain rare and important pieces and they have not been refurbished since the 1980s.

Planned improvements include highlighting key objects and the creation of displays which visitors can learn from.

Beamish, The Living Museum of the North was given £120,000 to help to improve access at the site.

Richard Evans, director of Beamish, said “We’re delighted that we have been successful.

“The award will assist us in our on-going programme of increased accessibility, with the provision of a period-style, fully accessible bus.”

The Oriental Museum, at University of Durham, got £83,250 to promote a Southern Asia Project.

Craig Barclay, curator of university museums, said: “We’re absolutely delighted. There are 107 museums which are eligible for funding, so it’s very competitive.

“This money will be used to create a gallery to house collections relating to India and the Himalayas.”

The project has also received about £114,000 from the Arts Council England.

The York Museums Trust was given £300,000 to help pay for an £8m project to developed the York Art Gallery.

The gallery will re-open in early 2015 after work to produce extra exhibition and learning space.

Janet Barnes, chief executive of trust, said: “This means we’ve nearly raised the funds to transform the interior of the gallery and create one of the best regional galleries in the country.”

Paul Ramsbottom, chief executive of the Wolfson Foundation, said: “The projects supported in this round are impressive, and will help inspire visitors to the country’s wonderful museums and galleries.”