Estimates place damages from Tuesday’s devastating fire at the Biblical Arts Center in Dallas as high as $15 million.
Only about ten percent of the artwork on display in the center was saved from the flames, said center director Scott Peck.
"Tremendous loss. It's devastating,” Peck said.
Peck said the museum's signature piece, a 124-foot-by-20-foot painting depicting the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles, "looks like it's totally burned."
The painting by Torger Thompson titled "Miracle at Pentecost" was shown several times a day, along with a sound and light show, according to the center's Web site.
More than two-dozen pictures were leaned against a wall outside the museum after being rescued by firefighters.
A handful of sculptures sat nearby.
About 30 patrons were in the center when the fire broke out at about 11 a.m. Tuesday.
It appeared the fire started near the massive painting that was destroyed by the flames, Peck said.
About 130 firefighters responded to the six-alarm blaze, which produced a cloud of white smoke that was visible for miles.
Firefighters were hampered by temperatures that approached 100 degrees as they battled the flames.
A church group that was touring the museum smelled smoke and first notified staffers, Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Lt. Joel Lavender said.
All of those inside the museum escaped without injury.
Authorities didn’t know how the fire started, but according to reports Wednesday, they were seeking a museum visitor they described only as “a person of interest.”
The center is operated by the Miracle at Pentecost Foundation founded by the late Dallas philanthropist Mattie Caruth Byrd.
In 2003, the nonprofit, non-denominational center drew thousands to the exhibit "From the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Forbidden Book," a $15 million collection of manuscripts and Bibles.