Artifact Collection Agency
An Artifact Collection Agency is a group of people who make it their business to collect mysterious artifacts
. Sometimes this is done to protect the artifacts from misuse, or to protect the world from the artifacts which are considered inherently dangerous. Of course, collectors can have ulterior motives, too.
Though they are more often run by the government, sometimes private citizens form Artifact Collection Agencies and create fabulous repositories for them in the form of the Bazaar of the Bizarre
, Trophy Room
or Superhero Trophy Shelf
. Governmental artifact collectors will often have a Secret Government Warehouse
where recovered artifacts are kept under lock and key.
Of course, they Gotta Catch Them All
Commonly sought by the Artifact Collection Agency are:
- The Men in Black: Both are clandestine government operatives charged with maintaining the Masquerade, but the Men In Black have a much broader mission scope than the Artifact Collection Agency and a bit more of a soldierly quality to them.
- The Collector of the Strange: A one-person Artifact Collection Agency who collects the extraordinary for his/her own enjoyment. May be in conflict with the Artifact Collection Agency.
- Museum of the Strange and Unusual
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Anime & Manga
- The Speedwagon Foundation in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure works in conjunction with the Joestar family to collect and research the various supernatural MacGuffins throughout the series, such as the vampire-creating Stone Masks and the psychic power-bestowing Stand Arrows.
- One of the primary objectives of the Time-Space Administration Bureau in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha franchise has always been securing the Lost Logia, magical artifacts created for the centuries-long Saint King Unification War (or even earlier Belkan wars). The reason for this is that Lost Logia are extremely dangerous to unsuspecting civilians and even more so in criminal hands, although some minds within TSAB have also tried to weaponize Lost Logia themselves.
- The Society from Dragon Crisis! collects artifacts called "Lost Preciouses". The more powerful/dangerous ones are usually locked away in vaults, while individual members of the Society have their own private collections. Eriko also started up her own Lost Precious collection agency called Seven Tails that specializes in acquiring and recovering Lost Preciouses.
- The Library which The Librarian works for is one of these.
- The Secret Government Warehouse seen at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark implies the existence of such an agency: It's far too large to only contain things stumbled upon by chance.
- Unless it's just an ordinary warehouse and they dumped the Ark in there for lack of a better idea of what to do it.
- In Crystal Skull it is revealed that said warehouse also contains the corpses of Roswell aliens. As it implies that found unusual artifacts are kept together, it seems that at least their storage is done on an organised basis, although it's still a huge stretch to extrapolate the existence of said agency.
- As mentioned below in the Live-Action TV section, this happens in Stargate. It is worth mentioning that Stargate Command (the operation which runs the Stargate on the tv show) doesn't exist yet during the movie, so in this case the artifact collecting agency is the US Air Force.
- The Doctor Who New Adventures novels have the Library of St John the Beheaded, which collects and preserves books and manuscripts containing information for which The World Is Not Ready. Stories set in the future, when mankind has gone to the stars, have the Braxiatel Collection, which does likewise for many worlds. (Theatre of War includes a passing reference suggesting that the Collection contains the Library within it, and the Doctor Who Missing Adventures novel Empire of Glass confirms the connection.)
- The Braxiatel Collection also features in the spin-off Bernice Summerfield series.
- In The Wheel of Time, the White Tower claims all sa'angreal, angreal, and ter'angreal for itself, arguing that they are too dangerous to be handled by anyone else (sometimes this is true). The government of Tear also tries to accumulate as many ancient artifacts as possible, with the argument that they need to keep them all out of the hands of the Tower and the Dragon.
- The Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office in Harry Potter is responsible for retrieving enchanted items which have somehow found their way into Muggle hands to preserve The Masquerade.
Live Action TV
- Friday the 13th: The Series focuses on the antique shop of one Lewis Vendredi, who made a Deal with the Devil that involved using the shop to sell cursed antiques, before he eventually broke the contract and lost his soul. The shop is now in the hands of his niece Micki and her cousin Ryan, who have made it their mission to recover every Artifact of Doom their uncle once sold before they can do any more harm to the world around them.
- Warehouse 13, in which special agents from various government organizations, as well as civilians in some cases, are recruited to snag, bag, and tag "whatever's trying to ruin the world's day." There have been 13 incarnations, each in a different country, beginning with the one founded by Alexander the Great. Since then, times and means have changed, but the mission has not.
- Perhaps notably, one of the incarnations of the Warehouse was the Library of Alexandria, which as we all know went up in flames. There's one of the downsides to collecting world-destroying artifacts.
- The Lost Room, which actually had several such groups.
- In the Stargate franchise, this is part of Stargate Command's charter. Basically, their mission is "Go find alien tech we can use to defend the Earth against hostile ETs."
- Also in the Stargate franchise, the NID takes on the same function but with a more aggressive, less scrupulous and eventually illegal approach. Its successor, The Trust, is even worse.
- This is an important part of Torchwood's charter, in both Torchwood and Doctor Who. Unofficial motto: "If It's Alien, It's Ours." They have a nasty tendency to forget their other priorities (like the bit about defending the realm), in fact.
- In The Librarian trilogy of TV movies, the Metropolitan Library is an Artifact Collection Agency.
- GoGo Sentai Boukenger has multiple collection agencies: The Search Guard Successor Foundation, and various antagonist groups known as the Negative Syndicates.
- Its adaptation, Power Rangers Operation Overdrive, is similar; though the characters here are only interested in one specific set of artifacts, the Corona Aurora and its jewels, and only pursue other artifacts when they can give clues to the jewels' locations.
- In Shadowrun, the Mystic Crusaders organization acquires ancient magic items and artifacts for the Atlantean Foundation.
- Hunter: The Vigil has the Aegis Kai Doru, who collect artifacts to use against supernaturals.
- The GURPS Warehouse 23 setting.
- Also, the Curator and her aide, Mr. Portent, from a GURPS Magic Items 3 vignette. (She's an homage to the Monitor from DC Comics.)
- In the Ravenloft setting, the Guardians are a monastic order dedicated to collecting the various evil and/or cursed artifacts which abound in that world, and locking them away so they can't harm innocent people. Unusual in that they don't lock piles of them in one place, knowing this would only be dangling an irresistible lure in front of the Land's numerous villains; rather, each monastery of Guardians watches over a single powerful object.
- Exile III's Cult of the Sacred Item.
- Merchants in every role playing game ever. Whether they sell them to the player or buy the goods, these people see many of the most dangerous artifacts in existence.
- The Moebius Foundation in the Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty single player campaign. Their mission is to collect a set of Xel'Naga artifacts, and they hire Raynor's Raiders to do the legwork. However, the Moebius Foundation is really a front organization set up by the emperor's son, Valerian Mengsk.
- The Adventures Of Massmouth: The interstellar magnate The Worm employs his own agents, to provide new acquisitions for his collection.
- Warcraft's two main factions and the Pandaren have one each: the Explorer's League is a mostly Dwarven organization dedicated to collecting and displaying Titan relics while the Reliquary is a Blood Elven group who seeks to make practical use of these same relics with less regard for their purely historical worth. The Pandaren Lorewalkers mostly focus on collecting relics of the lost history of the races of Pandaria, particularly the Pandaren themselves and their former oppressors, the Mogu.
- The Repository of Dangerous Things.
- RCSI in Code Name: Hunter is described as having this as one of its duties
- Although to be fair we hardly see any sort of artifact except for a cursed drum set and a smoking wooden box
- The Crossoverlord's The Armoury of Apocalyptic Objects, an armoury stocked with devices that can literally destroy entire (or even multiple) universes.
- The SCP Foundation is a worldwide organization supported by multiple governments. It collects artifacts to study them, to protect humans from the artifacts, and to protect normalcy, meaning that they keep secret the existence of even the most harmless of artifacts in order to keep the world ignorant of the existence of the paranormal.
- Several others that compete with the SCP foundation also exist, such as Marshall, Carter, and Dark Ltd. who uses the artifacts as ways to provide "unique experiences" to the world's super rich, and the Global Occult Coalition, who seek to destroy paranormal items.
- Edict One of Edict Zero Fis.
- Museums. (Minus their artifacts having Applied Phlebotinum properties of course. Museum pieces can nevertheless be unique or in other ways extremely valuable.) Although the museums subvert the trope insofar that, additionally to preserving and studying their stuff, they put it (at least their most interesting or awesome pieces, if their collection is too huge) on display for everyone to come and have a good look at it.
- A variant for living artifacts would be zoos, particularly if there's anything rare and endangered there.