Boston museum to protect art with pest-sniffing dog

Boston Museum of Fine Art

Among the Museum of Fine Arts’ holdings is Five O’ Clock Tea, 1880, by Mary Cassatt (American, 1844-1926). Public domain image

BOSTON (AP) – Boston’s venerable Museum of Fine Arts has gone to the dogs.

The museum on Wednesday introduced the newest addition to its staff, a Weimaraner puppy named Riley that will be trained to sniff out insects or other pests that could potentially damage priceless works of art.

Riley belongs to and will be trained by Nicki Luongo, the museum’s director of protective services.

Deputy Director Katie Getchell tells The Boston Globe that insects are an ongoing concern for museums and there are already existing protocols in place to handle potential infestations. Riley will add another layer and help sniff out pests humans can’t see.

Getchell says she’s not aware of another institution using a dog for similar work.

Riley will be used behind the scenes and won’t be seen by visitors.

History of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston:

The Museum of Fine Arts was founded in 1870 and opened in 1876, with most of its initial collection taken from the Boston Athenæum Art Gallery. Francis Davis Millet, a local artist, was instrumental in starting the art school affiliated with the museum, and in appointing Emil Otto Grundmann as its first director. The museum was originally located in a highly ornamented brick Gothic Revival building in Copley Square.

In 1907, planning began on a new home for the museum on Huntington Avenue in Boston’s Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood near the renowned Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. In 1909, the first section of architect Guy Lowell’s neoclassical design was completed. The museum moved to its new location later that year. The Copley Square Hotel eventually would replace the old building.

Numerous additions enlarged the building throughout the years, including the Decorative Arts wing in 1928 (again enlarged in 1968) and the Norma Jean Calderwood Garden Court and Terrace in 1997. The West Wing, designed by I. M. Pei, opened in 1981, and was renamed the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art in 2008. This wing now houses the museum’s cafe, restaurant, and gift shop as well as a special exhibition space.

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Information from: The Boston Globe and Wikipedia. Auction Central News International contributed.

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