Last year, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston made a very special acquisition. Riley, an adorable Weimeraner puppy, joined the conservation team as a bug hunter.
Insects can cause incredible amounts of damage to fine artworks. Moths can destroy textiles, beetles burrow into wood, and silverfish eat books (paper, ink and all). Whilst the museum already had measures in place to reduce the chance of pests coming in, Riley is a trial to see if sniffer dogs can be used to identify contaminated pieces.
Weimeraners are often used as sniffer dogs for drugs and bombs because of their great nose, trainability and stamina.
Riley is owned by Nicki Luongo, who is director of protective services at the museum. She has also been responsible for training him over the last year. Now that Riley has settled into his role, he is being immortalised in a children’s book.
“The Adventures of Riley the Museum Dog” follows Riley as he tracks Wiley the moth from one exhibition to the next. Readers are not only introduced to the hard-working dog, but they can also read about the different exhibitions in the museum.
The book is a collaboration between the Museum of Fine Arts and the Boston Globe and is expected next month.