Michael Jones McKean, an artist who is former resident of the Bemis Center and professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, had been working on a project to create a machine capable of creating rainbows since 2002, which is possible as long as it is a sunny day.
The machine uses a series of injection pumps and high-powered custom font nozzles to spray water (recycled) in the air, creating the conditions for a rainbow to appear. Commercial irrigation equipment measures the time to create a dense wall of water that simulates a storm of rain and the sun does the rest of the work. At the end, the rainbow is possible due to rain water combined with sunlight, just like a a real one.
McKean’s work amplifies “the celebratory quality, seductive and difficult to reach the rainbow spectacular event.” As of June, visitors to downtown Omaha may see a rainbow stretching over the Bemis Center twice a day for a maximum of 20 minutes at a time. Depending on the angle of the sun, the amount of sunlight, weather conditions and other factors, every rainbow has different qualities and characteristics. Visitors will be able to see the artificially created rainbow up to 1,000 feet away from it and even be able to walk through it in June.