Conservation & Preservation

The life of Riley: meet the dog protecting the works at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Meet Riley, the newest (and, dare we say, the most cuddly) addition to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The 12-week-old Weimaraner puppy joined the institution’s Protective Services team last month as part of a pilot programme to train man's best friend to sniff out pests that may be lurking in works made from organic materials, food, waste, flowers and plants. “Weimaraners are very intelligent and have an incredible sense of smell,” says Matthew Siegal, the chair of the museum’s conservation and collections management department. “Riley’s duties as a scent dog at the MFA are well suited to his breed.” Although the museum has pest detection protocols in place, Siegal says Riley offers “an extra layer of pest detection that only a dog can provide”. The youngster is expected to take up his new post after a year-long training programme.

Video © the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.