A glib explanation of the difference between archives, libraries, and museums will often be that libraries have books, museums have objects, and archives have paper. While this is generally true, it doesn’t really encapsulate how nuanced collections can become.

A photo was recently found in the archives, of a sculpture called The Third Man. It was built in 1980 by students at the University with the help of a sculpter-in-residence. The Third Man was made of found objects (“Junk”), and was 10 feet tall.

third man

The Third Man was, according to the newspaper article from the Bayou Review, donated to The Pits. What happened to him after that, we don’t know. So, if the sculpture was found today, would it be an archival object? It was made by our community, for our community, using junk that even came from around here! It’s provenance (or origins) seem to be crying out for inclusion into the collections. On the other hand, it’s an art piece, something that archives usually don’t allow in their collections because archives are for business records and other information objects like that. There is no answer to this question, by the way, since the sculpture isn’t here. But an interesting thing to think about.