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 (58)
  • NathalyP-del
    1/24/2018 - 05:27 p.m.

    The article is about a dog named Riley who has been hired to sniff up any sign of pests or dogs. Riley has been plenty help to the museum and to all the unique art work there.

  • DevanS-del
    1/24/2018 - 05:56 p.m.

    Riley is a huge help to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. His keen sense of smell helps him to sniff out the smallest bugs. Bugs such as silverfish and moths can cause great damage to the museum and its contents as well as many other insects. Beetles can burrow into wooden objects. Moths can munch on delicate textiles like wool, silk and cotton. That’s not to mention the horrors that silverfish can inflict on books.

  • ChloeT-del
    1/24/2018 - 06:07 p.m.

    This article's about a bug-sniffing dog named Riley. He helps the museums and makes sure there are no bugs in the artwork. He is an experiment. If he is successful of keeping bugs out of the artwork, museums might consider having bug-sniffing dogs of their own.

  • NatalieH-del
    1/24/2018 - 06:09 p.m.

    This article is about a puppy named Riley. His job is to sniff outs bugs and other pests. If he succeeds, there will be other dogs trained to do the same job as him.

    He's like everyone's boi Roscoe the Bed Bug Dog.

  • ReesePratt-del
    1/24/2018 - 06:15 p.m.

    This would be so helpful. If I ever thought I had bed bugs I would for most serration call this dog.

  • HannahR -del
    1/24/2018 - 06:53 p.m.

    the Boston Museum of Fine Arts need a bug-sniffing dog bc there is a lot of bugs.

  • AngelinaB-del
    1/24/2018 - 07:06 p.m.

    This article is about how The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has discovered that their beautiful artwork might be in danger. According to The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston moths, beetles, and silverfish can ruin the priceless artwork. "Moths can munch on delicate textiles like wool, silk and cotton. Beetles can burrow into wooden objects." And silverfish can inflict major horror on books. So in order to prevent these pests from damaging artwork, The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has hired Riley to sniff out these bugs. Riley is not trained yet but is going to start training soon and continue for a year.

  • ZofiaT-del
    1/24/2018 - 07:16 p.m.

    This article is how the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has had a new addition to their museum, Riley. Riley is a dog trained to sniff out insects in the exhibits. But the catch is, shes not trained yet. So hopefully over the next year, Riley will be fully trained.

  • JasminderK-del
    1/24/2018 - 07:39 p.m.

    This article talks about how the Boston museum of fine arts got a Bug sniffing dog , a Weimaraner puppy named Riley to be exact that will be trained over the next ear to be able to know if there are moths, beetles, and silverfish in any part of the museum as they can have great damage to the artwork in the museum.

  • PriscillaD-del
    1/24/2018 - 07:44 p.m.

    This article is about a bug-sniffing dog named Riley. The museum needs this dog because bugs/insects can chew and ruin certain types of paintings; i.e. moths can munch on delicate textiles like wool, silk and cotton. Riley will smell and see an object/painting and be able to tell if there is anything he notices, and they'll inspect it.

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