The University of Minnesota is home to the world’s largest collection of Sherlockiana — over 60,000 items including books, artwork, memorabilia and some rare treasures related to Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This collection exemplifies the university’s dedication to preserving archival materials and educating the public on historical figures, even if that figure is fictional. A massive resource for those studying the impact made by the world’s most famous consulting detective on Victorian England, his creator and popular culture.
Keep calm and deduce
Maybe you’re like me, you’ve dipped your toe in the canon with The Hound of the Baskervilles (or a very–very!–faithful graphic novel version). You saw (and liked) both of Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies starring Robert Downey Jr. and you occasionally indulge in television’s modern-day Sherlocks: Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller.
Maybe you are a true Sherlockian, a card-carrying member of the Baker Street Irregulars (or a scion society like the Norwegian Explorers of Minnesota). You indulge in a world where it’s always 1895. You’ve read all 56 short stories, four novels and actively take part in “The Great Game,” using your own knowledge of the canon and detective work to learn more about Holmes. Maybe you’ve even made a full-scale replica of Holmes’ sitting room at 221B Baker Street (this happens to be real and part of the U’s collection).
If you’re the latter, you may have just flipped your Deerstalker lid at my lack of Holmesian clout. One thing I have on you thanks to Google Glass: My face has been closer to one of Doyle’s handwritten manuscript pages than yours.
The collection is housed in a secure underground storage area and generally not available for viewing, but you can see items from this impressive collection. The Sherlock Holmes: Through Time and Place exhibit is free and open to the public at the Elmer L. Andersen Library through September 27. You can see a few of the items on display in my factoid-filled gallery below. Not in the Twin Cities? No worries. You can view the entire collection online through the U Media Archive.