A 10ft sculpture honouring the renowned potter Josiah Wedgwood has been knocked down by a council during roadworks.
Stoke-On-Trent Council admitted it made a "grave mistake" when contractors accidentally demolished the red-brick sculpture while attempting to widen a road near the city centre.
A council spokesman called the incident a "significant operational error".
"We apologise unreservedly for that. We have taken this matter up directly with contractors to understand what has gone wrong," he added.
The Josiah Wedgwood art installation was created by sculptor Vincent Woropay for the National Garden Festival in 1986, and later moved to the city's Festival Park area in 2009.
Fred Hughes, a local historian who attended the first unveiling of the sculpture, told the BBC it was "beyond belief" that it had been removed.
He said the remaining bricks of the sculpture should have been stored correctly so the sculpture could be reassembled elsewhere.
"As far as I'm concerned, it's a scandal and I want to see it repaired," he said.
The bricks and the base of the sculpture will now be sensitively removed from the park, the council added.
Abi Brown, the council leader, said: "Culture is at the fabric of our city and plays a hugely significant role in the story of Stoke-on-Trent.
"I have instructed the director of the service to personally oversee immediate work to protect the sculpture and investigate how this has happened."