File this one under “news of the adorable”: The latest staff member at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is Riley, a 12-week-old Weimaraner puppy. The institution hopes his impressive olfactory skills can be harnessed to detect insects and bugs, to prevent infestations that might threaten the preservation of museum objects.
Riley belongs to the museum’s head of Protective Services and will work with the MFA on a volunteer basis, reports the Boston Globe. As part of a new pilot program, he’ll be trained to inspect museum objects, sitting down in front of them if he smells moths or other bugs, which can cause damage, especially to textile, wood, or other organic materials.
“Pests are an ongoing concern for museums,” Katie Getchell, chief brand officer and deputy director of the Museum of Fine Arts, told the Globe. “If it is something that works, it’s something that other museums, or other libraries, or other places that collect materials that are susceptible to any kind of infestation like that could use as another line of defense.”
As far as the MFA knows, it is the only institution to add the art-world equivalent of a bomb-sniffing dog to its protocols for keeping bugs in check.
“We use an integrated pest management approach, which means that we do not use pesticides but rather address the symptoms that cause the presence of pests—including pests’ opportunity to enter and leave the building; their food source; and the climate conditions that support their ability to survive,” a representative of the museum told artnet News of existing protective efforts in an email. Read more