Joseph Kent, BA ’10

Photo of Joseph

As deputy director and curator for the Atomic Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada, Joseph Kent supports the museum’s CEO, supervises the guest relations manager and museum specialist, and oversees the Curatorial Department, where he manages the museum’s exhibits and collection of artifacts.

“My passion comes from a desire to make history, including topics that can be difficult to discuss, accessible to the public,” he said.

The Atomic Museum educates the public about the U.S.’s nuclear weapons testing program, specifically the role of the Nevada National Security Sites, formerly the Nevada Test Site.

“From 1951 to 1992, the U.S. conducted 928 tests at the site: 100 above- and 828 underground tests,” Joseph explained.

Started as a private national museum in 2005, the Atomic Museum became a Smithsonian affiliate in 2012. It introduces guests to the subject of nuclear testing and nuclear weapons through different lenses, “everything from environmental studies and engineering to geopolitics and popular culture,” said Joseph.

As a child, Joseph enjoyed visiting museums with his family, but it was in high school when he first considered a career in public history.

“A couple of my teachers noticed I had an interest in the subject. I then attended ONU and received a bachelor's degree in history with a minor in public history and museum studies and earned a master’s degree in history with a focus in public history from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. In 2013, a few months after I accepted an internship with the Atomic Museum, they offered me a full-time position, and I never looked back.”

Joseph appreciates all aspects of his job and says the Ground Zero Theater is a favorite. “It lets our guests experience what it would be like to witness one of the tests.”

He acknowledges that the subject of atomic weapons can be fraught, and he is committed to conveying history in ways that appeal to visitors.

“Though we never seek to change our guests’ views on nuclear weapons and testing, we make a point to dispel misconceptions they might have and ensure they leave with an informed opinion,” he said.

When asked about a favorite recent project, Joseph said he’s been leading an initiative that is a first for the museum: Atomic Odyssey, which will introduce guests to the scientific concepts associated with nuclear testing through a series of interactive, hands-on STEM experiments.

He’s not surprised ONU alumni are succeeding in high-level positions at some of the nation’s top museums and parks.

“What sets ONU apart is that the faculty prepare students for the world beyond the classroom. They taught us to balance the academic expectations of our career with the practical, and they stressed that the skills we were learning as historians could be applied to any topic, which really inspired my classmates and me.”