The latest addition to the team at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts: Riley, a 12-week-old Weimaraner, who is tasked with patrolling for pests that could damage the institution’s holdings.
According to the Boston Globe, Riley is a new volunteer whose powerful canine nose is being trained to detect bugs that could damage objects in the MFA’s keeping:
“We have lots of things that bring, by their very nature, bugs or pests with them,” said Katie Getchell, chief brand officer and deputy director of the Museum of Fine Arts. “If he 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.”
The museum has existing protocols in place to handle any potential infestation issues before they arise, but bringing Riley into the fold will offer an added layer of protection, she said.
The New York Times went into some additional detail:
As is, the museum has a variety of pest-control tactics, including quarantining new artwork before it’s placed in galleries.
But no amount of prevention tactics can change the fact that the museum has more than 1 million people passing through each year. Moths and other bugs might occasionally hitch a ride on a visitor’s coat, or be attracted to the food-preparation areas.
Dogs of course have famously sensitive noses and can be trained to find just about anything, from drugs to bombs. “It’s really a trial, pilot project. We don’t know if he’s going to be good at it,” said deputy director Katie Getchell, according to the Times. “But it seems like a great idea to try.” Of course, it also makes for a nice cheerful news story when god knows we could all use one.