BARRIERS may have to be used to separate visitors to historic Woolmers Estate and the exhibits, following the theft of a radiator figure from a veteran car, general manager Damian Saunders said.
Mr Saunders said that the theft, on Saturday, of the ballerina from the estate's 1913 Wolseley had left staff devastated.
"We're still hoping that it might have just been an opportunistic act, encouraged by the fact that there were not many people around and once this person realises the possible impact on the estate and its visitors, will return it to us," Mr Saunders said.
"The ballerina is a very rare and precious item and we would appreciate it if the public would remain observant in helping us to recover it - it's very easily recognised and if it finds its way onto the second-hand market, would be easily traced.
"The theft has forces us to acknowledge how easily accessible some of our precious collection pieces are and potentially that could mean erecting barriers and ending the unique, authentic settings we have at Woolmers.
"Barriers would make a more museum-like style set up and it would ba a real shame to lose the unique opportunity people have at the moment to see exhibits in their natural surroundings - it's a major point of difference between us and other heritage attractions.
"But we can't afford to lose the very things people come to Woolmers to see."