The latest staff member to take up a position at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts is definitely the most adorable. But don’t let the sweet eyes and floppy ears fool you. Riley, a Weimaraner puppy, is currently in training for the very serious job of detecting bugs that could potentially harm artworks.
Riley’s owner is Nicki Luongo, the museum’s director of protective services, and he will train him up for the job over the next year. The pooch is only 12 weeks old, so is currently not an expert yet in detecting havoc-wreaking pests. He was acquired because insects can have devastating consequences on precious museum items, and beetles, moths, silverfish can cause damage to textiles, wood, books and artworks. As Weimaraners don’t have long tails, they are a good choice for a museum full of precious objects, and the breed is known for its stamina and can work for long hours without getting bored.
“We have lots of things that bring, by their very nature, bugs or pests with them,” Katie Getchell, chief brand officer and deputy director of the museum said in an interview with the Boston Globe. “If Riley can be trained to sit down in front of an object that he smells a bug in, that we can’t smell or see, then we could take that object, inspect it and figure out what’s going on. That would be remarkable in terms of preserving objects.”
A treat for a good boy after his first public appearance 🐶 You may not see him roaming around the galleries, but he’s got an important job to do behind the scenes. We look forward to sharing Riley’s progress! pic.twitter.com/VTLxTa0aKJ
— Museum of Fine Arts (@mfaboston) January 10, 2018
Katie has also revealed that the rest of the staff are “overwhelmed by the excitement” and can’t wait to meet their new colleague. After that, he may possibly get to meet the public. Who knows, if the programme is successful, it may pave the way for dogs being used to protect precious items in other museums around the world.