Rainbow Hunter

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

From July 2014 until May of this year, I worked as a Program Interpreter. I considered myself lucky to get to wander the Museum’s spaces every day, answering questions and teaching school programs. I felt then, as I still do now, that I could work here for years and continue to discover new things about this complex structure.

The Museum is a marvel of engineering, with 5,400 tonnes of steel, 35,000 tonnes of concrete and more than 175,000 pieces of limestone, basalt and alabaster.  But what brings it all to life for me are the over 1,300 pieces of glass that lets so much light in to play among the steel and the stones. Architect Antoine Predock envisioned the building as a journey from darkness to light, and it’s a journey I take every time I walk the alabaster ramps that connect the Museum’s galleries.  When you are searching for light, you can discover surprising things. 

The light coming through the windows interacting with the building


The look and mood of the Museum varies in small ways from morning until night, with an alternation in weather, or a transition of season. These changes make endless opportunities to look at spaces from different angles, pick a favourite viewpoint, and search for fossils. My curiosity remains constant, piqued by visitor observations and anecdotes of staff members who have had their hand in making this museum grow.

I am most intrigued by how the light coming through the windows interacts with the building. Shadows in geometric patterns are left on walls and floors as the light weaves around the steel. The abundance of glass and intersecting angles means there are numerous prisms where light can be dispersed in a spectrum of colours, leaving tiny rainbows to be spotted all over the place.

A rainbow on a floor
Rainbow in the Tower of Hope


The best part is that these rainbows tend to sneak up on you, quickly appearing at your feet or on the wall. The tough part is capturing the fleeting glow before it disappears.

A rainbow on a floor
Rainbow in Inspiring Change gallery


It was a young visitor on my tour who first made me notice how many occur and turned me into a resident rainbow hunter. After pointing to a rainbow appearing over the rocks in the Garden of Contemplation, we started to see them on different levels throughout the morning tour.

A rainbow on rocks
Rainbow in the Garden of Contemplation


Since then I casually notice them throughout my day, and take a moment to figure out where exactly the path of light is coming from. This part of the hunt I like to share with a co-worker or passerby who is pulled into my burst of amusement. 

A rainbow on a wall
Rainbow in the Hall of Hope


These quiet rows of colours are often overlooked, but add a spot of brightness to my day. As someone who spends a lot of time in this building, I enjoy taking a moment to stop and focus on what the beam of light is highlighting. Often it is a material, a texture, or a feature of a space I would have passed by without looking.

A rainbow on a floor
Rainbow on the floor


Now it’s both a challenge and delight to come across these in my week. And if you ever happen to pass by an interpreter glancing at the floor or into the windows above, know that the game is afoot.