University of Minnesota home to world's largest Sherlock Holmes collection

Buried 90 feet below the West Bank of the University of Minnesota, there's a treasure trove of items inspired by one of the most popular literary characters of all time.

The U's Anderson Library has more than 60,000 pieces of Sherlock Holmes history, making it the largest collection devoted to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional detective in the world.

"Our vision is to be the world's center for the study and appreciation of Sherlock Holmes," said Tim Johnson, curator of the U's Sherlock Holmes Collections.

The stockpile started when a group of Holmes enthusiasts called the "Norwegian Explorers", who were all professors at the U, bought a small stash of first edition books and magazines, which eventually led to the acquisitions of massive Holmes collections from Dr. Phillip Hench from the Mayo Clinic and eccentric collector John Bennet Shaw.

"Once the Hench collection came here, the whole Sherlockian world stood up and said what is going on in Minneapolis," said Johnson.

Tim Johnson shows off a Dr. Watson puppet, just one tiny piece of the collection. (FOX 9)

In addition to the first books and periodicals Holmes appeared in, there are nods to iconic features like his magnifying glass, deerstalker hat and street address.

There are also more unusual items like a stuffed pig named Sherlock Hams, as well as Holmes-themed board games and calendars.

"We're trying to document the character and the life of Sherlock Holmes in popular culture," said Johnson.

The U still gets up to 500 Sherlock items every year, leaving little mystery that Holmes is still beloved after all this time.

"Sherlock Holmes lives. He's still keeping his bees. He's still helping us solve crimes. He's still helping us figure out what it means to be human," said Johnson.

A traveling exhibit featuring 100 items from the U's collections opened at the Minnesota History Center last week.