Meet Riley, the puppy training to sniff out bugs in Boston's Museum of Fine Arts Riley, future bug-cop. (Museum of Fine Arts Boston/Merriweather/Wiki Commons)
Meet Riley, the puppy training to sniff out bugs in Boston's Museum of Fine Arts
Lexile

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has made some pretty incredible acquisitions recently. In the last year alone, the museum received an important collection of 113 Dutch paintings. It also expanded its collection of 20th-century painters. But the museum’s latest addition is Riley. Riley is a Weimaraner puppy. He will help the museum search for insects and pests that might harm artworks. According to Steve Annear at The Boston Globe, this is the story that’s currently fetching the most attention. 

Bugs in a museum are no small problem. Moths can munch on delicate textiles like wool, silk and cotton. Beetles can burrow into wooden objects. That’s not to mention the horrors that silverfish can inflict on books. Here's how to get an idea of how much damage bugs can inflict on institutions. Just consider the outbreak of “clothes moths” that infested just about every museum in Great Britain.

The Museum of Fine Arts wanted to stop such infestations before they start. Enter the puppy.

“We have lots of things that bring, by their very nature, bugs or pests with them,” said Katie Getchell. She is chief brand officer and deputy director of the Museum of Fine Arts. She explained in an interview with Annear, "If [Riley] can be trained to sit down in front of an object that he smells a bug in, that would be remarkable in terms of preserving objects. If we couldn't smell it or see it, then we could take that object, inspect it, and figure out what’s going on."

Currently, Riley doesn’t know a clothes moth from a piece of kibble. But according to Darren Reynolds at ABC News, Nicki Luongo, the museum’s director of protective services (who is also Riley’s owner), will train the pup for the job over the next year. Weimaraners are a particularly good breed for such tasks since they have stamina and can work for long hours without getting bored. That’s one reason they are often used as bomb- or drug-sniffing dogs. It doesn’t hurt either that Riley does not have a long tail, making him an especially good dog for working in a museum full of fragile objects.

Riley isn’t the museum’s only defense against insects, of course. Getchell tells Annear of the Globe that the museum already has stringent protocols designed to exclude creepy crawlies from the collection. Riley, who will work mostly behind the scenes, is an experiment. If he’s on point when it comes to bug detection, other institutions might get their own museum pups. 

This isn’t the only program using dogs to safeguard cultural artifacts to make news lately. Katie Bontje at the Daily Pennsylvanian reports that the Penn Museum and the Penn Vet Working Dog Center is working with the nonprofit heritage group Red Arch to train dogs to sniff out stolen pieces of cultural heritage. The program, called K-9 Artifact Finders, is using training material from the Penn Museum to help the dogs find contraband. If that goes well, eventually, the dogs could be deployed in the field with customs agents to track down stolen artifacts.

There’s been an uptick in antiquities smuggling in recent years, fueled by ISIS and anonymous internet sales. It’s possible that antiquities dogs could help crack down on the trade. At the very least, they seem like they might be able to sniff out any antiquities based on cats.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why does the Boston Museum of Fine Arts need a bug-sniffing dog?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (59)
  • JohnB-dec
    1/24/2018 - 10:16 a.m.

    I thought that its cool to have a pest control puppy to protect all of the art.

  • keidene-orv
    1/24/2018 - 11:17 a.m.

    this has to be my favorite teen tribune hands down i don`t fully why they would need a bug sniffing dog

  • EsmeraldaV-del
    1/24/2018 - 03:28 p.m.

    I think its very interesting that Riley, the dog, is sniffing out bugs before infestations. I also think its really cool that one of the things protecting the museum is a dog!

  • GregoryM-del
    1/24/2018 - 03:46 p.m.

    Riley is a puppy training to sniff out bugs in Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. According to the museum director Riley is catching most of the attention.

  • AkshayB-del
    1/24/2018 - 04:07 p.m.

    This article is about a puppy who's name is Riley training to sniff out bugs in Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. Riley is a Weimaraner puppy. He will help the museum search for insects and pests that might harm artworks. Riley, who will work mostly behind the scenes, is an experiment. If he’s on point when it comes to bug detection, other institutions might get their own museum pups.

  • SophiaD-del1
    1/24/2018 - 04:22 p.m.

    Dogs have taken a new role in society's museums. Riley, a puppy is being trained to sniff out harmful bugs to the museum's artifacts. Our K-9 pals are also going to be used to trace missing or stolen artifacts. If these little pups can do that, then they will be the heroes of the artifact world.

  • ChloeR-del1
    1/24/2018 - 05:00 p.m.

    The Boston Museum of Fine Arts needs a bug-sniffing dog to help keep bug crawlies away from people. This can be useful to people who are afraid of bugs.

  • AnnabelleA-del
    1/24/2018 - 05:23 p.m.

    I absolutely love this Tween Tribune article. It summarizes up two of my favorite things, art, and animals. This incredible dog, Riley, is going to be trained to sniff-out bugs in the museum he works at. The bugs, if are left unfound, would destroy the art and artifacts. The Museum Of Natural History should consider getting a bug-sniffing dog soon!

  • KyleP-del1
    1/24/2018 - 05:24 p.m.

    This article is about how the Museum of Fine Arts would like to train a dog to sniff out pest and bugs. They would like Riley to be able to smell the bugs Andy sit in front of the exhibit that is infested so that it will not have any further damage.

  • JohnB-del1
    1/24/2018 - 05:24 p.m.

    The Boston Museum of Fine Arts needs a bug sniffing dog to find bugs termites. These bugs can ruin the art and cause tourist and people won't come to see the art and the museum will close down.

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