New Volunteer at MFA

Riley, The Museum Dog (Photograph (c) Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)
Riley, The Museum Dog (Photograph (c) Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

This past January, a Weimaraner puppy named Riley joined the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, as a volunteer. A working “scent dog” in training, he will provide assistance with pest detection behind the scenes at the Museum.

Developed as a pilot program, Riley’s training will focus on supporting members of the Conservation, Protective Services, and Facilities departments as they care for the MFA’s collection, building, and grounds. Weimaraners are very intelligent and have an incredible sense of smell, making Riley’s duties as a scent dog well suited to his breed.

The Museum has many procedures in place to identify and eliminate pests that might “come and go” with art objects; and Riley’s natural talents could add one more layer of protection in the future.

Riley’s first few weeks at the MFA included a press conference on January 10 (when he was formally introduced to the media, ultimately earning him international attention), and his first all-staff meeting. He is currently undergoing basic puppy training and socialization while adjusting to his unique surroundings.

Riley will begin to learn more specialized skills related to identifying pests that may be present in the Museum environment over the coming year. His progress will be documented for the museum community and beyond, both by Protective Services and the Conservation staff, as well as on the MFA’s social media with the hashtag #RileyTheMuseumDog.

Born on October 14, 2017, Riley lives with the MFA’s head of Protective Services, Nicki Luongo, and travels with her to the Museum for his volunteer shifts.

We’re told that visitors to the MFA’s gift shop can purchase a couple of fun items to remind them of Riley once they get home. There’s a cuddly, stuffed plush toy named Riley as well as a 100-piece jigsaw puzzle featuring the cuddly canine.

The MFA is one of the most comprehensive art museums in the world with a collection encompassing nearly 450,000 works. More than one million visitors a year experience the art (from ancient Egyptian to contemporary), the special exhibitions, and innovative educational programs.

The Museum of Fine Arts is located at 465 Huntington Ave., Boston. For more information, including admission costs, hours, exhibits, programs, special events, and more, visit