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Artifact Collection Agency

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"Our mission is to expand the limits of human understanding and contain those elements we cannot yet control."
Director Zachariah Trench, Control

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:

Compare with:

  • 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.
  • Creature-Hunter Organization: Instead of collecting things, they seek and destroy things. Occasionally overlaps if they collect something from the things they hunt.
  • Museum of the Strange and Unusual


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • The Disney Kingdoms series "Seekers of the Weird" has the Wardens, a secret group who gather and protect dangerous magical objects in the Museum of the Weird.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Mansionverse, Walt Disney Imagineering themselves have elements of this (the private version thereof, that is). They track down and bring back supernatural objects, creatures and even buildings, all in order to make Disneyland more "realistic" instead of a mere special effects show. The Haunted Mansion itself is only the cherry on top of a collection that also includes Tikis, Yetis, and more.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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. The fourth film starts at either the same or a very similar warehouse, located in Area 51.
  • 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 that have somehow found their way into Muggle hands to preserve The Masquerade.
  • Otherside Picnic has the DS Labs, a medical company that has been researching the Otherside and gathering artifacts from that world in order to cure members who were mutated due to overexposure to the Otherside. Kozakura is one of their researchers (and thus the source of money she used to buy artifacts from Toriko) while Satsuki is a guest researcher there, though not an employee.
  • 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.

    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.
    • Several previous Warehouses are shown. Warehouse 2 was in Egypt, deliberately buried in sand, when the Romans were getting close. Warehouse 9 was in Turkey during the days of the Ottoman Empire. Warehouse 12 was in London.
  • The Lost Room, which actually had several such groups: the Collectors (the original group, now defunct), the Legion (seeking to protect people from the Objects and, generally, unwilling to kill), and the Order (a religious group, perfectly willing to kill to get their hands on every single Object).
  • 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.
    • Henry van Statten, a billionaire who "owns the Internet", has a private underground museum based in a bunker in Utah, full of the remnants of failed alien invasions of Earth, and a worldwide agency for rounding up more exhibits. Most items are novelties at best and junk at worst, except for his prize piece: a single living specimen... the last surviving Dalek of the Great Time War. Mr van Statten then tries to double that number by adding the Doctor himself to the collection.
  • In The Librarian trilogy of TV movies, the Metropolitan Library is an Artifact Collection Agency. This is continued in The Librarians series, except the Librarians are no longer headquartered in New York, preferring to use the Annex in Portland, Oregon.
    • Season 3 introduces the Department of Statistical Anomalies, a rival group working for the government who menace the team through season 3. Despite having some good intel and technology at their disposal, DOSA's stubborn insistence that the Librarians are the cause of the magical madness that goes on in the series, ignorance of how magic works, and inability to admit that they don't know how magic works mean they can't hold a candle to the Librarians.
  • Super Sentai:
    • 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.


    Tabletop Games 
  • 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 setting Warehouse 23. 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.

    Video Games 
  • 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. Which is itself a front for the fact that it's really under control of Arcturus and is being used to produce Hybrids, which is also a front for a couple of Eldritch Abominations and their plan to destroy the universe.
  • The Adventures of Massmouth: The interstellar magnate The Worm employs his own agents, to provide new acquisitions for his collection. They are supplied with equipment and comfortable quarters, and the Worm maintains a spaceport for them to fly out on retrieval missions.
  • World of Warcraft's two main factions as well as 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.
  • Deadfall Adventures: The agency for which Jenny and Professor Jacobs work, which is seeking the "Heart of Atlantis", employing James Lee Quatermain to help them.
  • Control: The eponymous Federal Bureau of Control is tasked with dealing with supernatural events, the vast majority of which involve items that have gained extranormal properties. As such, their office is basically an enormous storehouse of magical objects.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim mentions the Cynod, an order of mages from Cyrodiil. NPC dialogue and in the lorebooks suggests they might be doing it in preparation for the next war. There are several NPCs in the game (such as General Tullius, just to pick one) who mention point-of-fact bluntly that another "Great War" between the Aldmeri Dominion and the Empire is expected by both sides. And, both sides are doing what they can to strengthen themselves and weaken the other side in preparation for it. Thus, the Synod's actions in trying to gather powerful magic artifacts play right into the notion of the Empire trying to prepare themselves for this war. They're also doing it to suck up to the Emperor.
  • In the Trails Series, one of the Septian Church's duties involves collecting artifacts from the ancient Zemurians and keeping them from the hands of those who would misuse them (particularly Ouroboros).

  • 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 Corbettite monastic order in Girl Genius. They also run a railway network across Europa.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • The Last Stage, from Nat One Productions, has The Detachment — a secret government organization that tracks down spooky objects and creatures.

    Real Life 
  • 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.