I'm sure people probably recall the scene I'm talking about, but here's a recap:

At the conclusion of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indy is assured that the Ark of the Covenant is in a "safe place" where, according to a guy who seems to be some government lackey, "our top men are working on it". Scene cuts to shots of the Ark being placed in a wooden crate, stencilled with "Top Secret Army Intel #9906753, Do Not Open!" and then wheeled away into the depths of a very large and mysterious/ominous-looking warehouse full of similarly marked crates.


Of course, we later discover in Crystal Skull that this warehouse is part of a (fictionalised) US Army base located in Area 51.

I am wondering whether this warehouse, which basically appears to be a US government equivalent of the "Department of Mysteries" in Harry Potter, was based on any particular real-life location or facility serving the same, or a similar, purpose?

Obviously I'm not talking about the US army base in Area 51, or the physical architecture of the actual warehouse building, but rather a place where the government stores items that it wants to keep hidden and secure from the rest of the world.

Also, I am sure that organisations like the CIA and NSA must have some locations that serve such a purpose, but I am after a specific example that is cited by the writers/producers/Spielberg and Lucas etc. in real life, not just easily inferred generalisations or speculation (I would welcome that kind of commentary in the comments, but NOT posted as answers).

  • 3
    I'd say the closest thing in the real world is maybe the Smithsonian Archive...if there was an object that was out-of-place, or needed protection for historical reasons, that's probably where it would go. Oct 11, 2013 at 15:27
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    You want to know what real-life building with a similar purpose Lucas/Spielberg may have been referencing. The movie depicts a theorized Area 51. Area 51 has been confirmed to be real - granted, years after the movie came out.Any place where the government is hiding secrets is going to be secret itself - much like Area 51 was supposed to be. What else are you looking for?
    – phantom42
    Oct 12, 2013 at 13:55
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    Does the 'Well of Souls' have a real equivalent? Watching the clip you kindly included, there's no visible credentials lanyard on the attendant, and his attire is all wrong, and he wouldn't be using a hand cart anyway, thus no evidence that it is a government facility other than the stencils. The final scene is simply a visual metaphor for reburying the ark in a place it will never be found.
    – Gayot Fow
    Oct 12, 2013 at 19:16
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    Hmmm, secret warehouse, full of mysterious objects, some with unknown powers. Does this sound like Warehouse 13 to anybody?
    – John S.
    Oct 28, 2013 at 18:54
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    It's a good question. I have top men working on it.
    – user41751
    Feb 12, 2015 at 3:36

2 Answers 2


You can see a government document storage facility (in Houston, Texas) on the ActivRac website here. It's not quite as dramatically lit as the movie version I'm afraid;

enter image description here

  • The question was asking about warehouses specifically used for hiding items. Is the storage facility you posted about used for this function>
    – phantom42
    Dec 26, 2013 at 18:19
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    In-universe, it's not clear that the warehouse is anything other than "a big warehouse", the implication being that if you bury it, someone will simply dig it up again whereas if you hide something in plain sight within a large bureaucratic system, it's unlikely to ever be opened again.
    – Valorum
    Dec 27, 2013 at 11:25
  • Not really what I was after but still interesting, thanks :)
    – RuthP27
    Dec 30, 2013 at 13:33
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    I find it unlikely that the US really has a "Warehouse 13 / Area 51" where they store things that they don't want to see the light of day. The only things I could think of that would fall into that category would be seized weaponry or spy equipment, both of which probably would be kept within R+D depts at places like Walbridge Army Research Lab or the NSA laboratory at Fort Meade
    – Valorum
    Dec 30, 2013 at 14:33
  • @Valorum Frankly, I like to think we'd file all our super-secret stuff under something no one would ever want to read that still has controls for when people need to access it, like "Protected Tax Data (Prior to 1930)" or from a fake, but real-and-dreary-sounding agency, like "The International Committee for the Regulation of Embassy Food Quality: Minor Snacks Subcommittee." Apr 24, 2018 at 2:58

One place that's used is the Federal Depository at Fort Knox. Several items are stored there on request of other nations. Such as the Hungarian Crown Jewels. There are others but that's the only one I know of for sure.

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    This would be the Hungarian Crown Jewels, not the (vastly more valuable) British Crown Jewels.
    – Valorum
    Oct 28, 2014 at 0:24

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