Meet a Lucerna Author: Sophie Jess

What is your Lucerna project about?

My essay, “Please Touch: An Exploration of the Bloch Building as a Post-Museum in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art,” is about the pedagogical styles employed in different parts of the museum. More specifically, it is about the marked differences in the curation styles used in the more modern Bloch building compared to the rest of the museum. My project explores the two styles employed in the museum using Eilean Hooper-Greenhill’s definitions of the modernist and the post-museum.

Why are you interested in this topic?

I grew up in Kansas City visiting the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. When I was choosing a museum/monument for my Discourse H200 project, it was an easy choice for me because I have always felt a connection to the museum. In addition to that, when reading about Hooper-Greenhill’s concepts of the modernist and the post-museum, I could visualize the concepts so clearly within the context of the Nelson, and I wanted to explore the connection more thoroughly.

What have been the benefits and challenges of this project?

One of the major benefits of this project was that I chose a subject that is free to the public and easily accessible. I was able to visit the museum as many times as necessary throughout the project, which I think really helped bring my research to life. Another benefit to my subject of choice was the relatively recent addition of the Bloch Building. It was easy to find primary sources regarding the construction of the Bloch Building that spoke to its purpose because that took place less than twenty years ago. However, I wanted to find similar sources reporting when the museum first opened in 1933, which proved to be more difficult, considering I did not have much experience with historical research.

What is your advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna?

My first piece of advice would be to just go for it; it’s like the Wayne Gretzky quote: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” It also helps to have a faculty mentor. A project that you might not think is publication material could actually be a really promising piece, so it helps to have someone to encourage you. I would also strongly recommend taking advantage of the priority deadline, so you can receive feedback from the Lucerna staff and resubmit.

What are your professional plans or goals?

I am graduating in December with a B.A. in Chemistry and Psychology. I plan to take the following semester off to work, perhaps as a substitute teacher, before starting a graduate program for counseling psychology in the fall. I would like to eventually earn a Ph.D. and work either as a substance abuse or family and relationship counselor.


The Lucerna Symposium, at 5 p.m., Thursday, March 5, will feature most of the contributors to the latest edition of the undergraduate journal. This event is free and open to the public. Click here to RSVP.