Brazil's National Museum, the country's oldest and most important natural history museum, was engulfed in flames Sunday, with most of its priceless collection destroyed, officials said.
Nobody was injured in the fire, the cause of which is under investigation.
but the 200-year-old museum had more than 20 million artifacts from around the world.
"The loss of the National Museum's collection is insurmountable for Brazil.
Two hundred years of work, research and knowledge were lost," Brazilian President Michel Temer said in a tweet Sunday.
"This is a sad day for all Brazilians." Luiz Duarte, a vice-director of the museum, told TV Globo the loss of the museum was an "unbearable catastrophe," according to The Guardian.
"It is 200 years of this country's heritage.
It is 200 years of memory. It is 200 years of science. It is 200 years of culture, of education," he said.
But Duarte also said that politicians deserve some blame for not supporting the museum, which had fallen into significant disrepair due to lack of funding.
"For many years we fought with different governments to get adequate resources to preserve what is now completely destroyed," he said.
"My feeling is of total dismay and immense anger.
The National Museum has artifacts from around the world, including a large collection of rare pre-Colombian pieces, such as "Luiza," the oldest skeleton found in the Americas, and various other items.
It's not yet clear which artifacts survived the fire.