Metro, Arts

Riley, the MFA’s Favorite Security Guard, is the Star of a New Book

Bostonians fell in love when the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) announced last January that Riley, a slobbery 12-week-old Weimaraner puppy with icy blue eyes, was joining the museum’s security force.

While Riley does not make up the stereotypical museum guard, he plays one of the most important roles in safeguarding MFA collections: sniffing. As a volunteer for the conservation, protective services, and facilities departments, Riley sniffs for moths and other insects potentially hiding in current and incoming artwork.

A little more than a year after his hiring, and following extensive training, Riley is all grown up and now the star of the museum’s newest children’s book, The Adventures of Riley the Museum Dog.

Released in collaboration with The Boston Globe, the book follows Riley on a chase to catch Wiley, a tiny moth hungry for artwork. The story takes readers on a hunt through the galleries of the MFA, during which Riley and Wiley encounter 20 of the museum’s beloved pieces, ranging from Monet to Copley to Kahlo to Gauguin.

“We’re thrilled to collaborate with The Boston Globe on a delightful children’s book inspired by Riley, a beloved member of the Museum’s family,” said Katie Getchell, chief brand officer and deputy director of the MFA in an official statement. “This book is a fun way for us to introduce our collection to young readers, and we hope that it will inspire them and their parents to plan their own adventures at the MFA.”

The idea for the book came soon after the Globe published a story and video about Riley when he joined MFA forces last January. Food writer Devra First wrote the story, and Ryan Huddle, a design director for the Globe, provided the illustrations.

“The book idea came about as a fresh way to keep the story going and showcase the many narrative talents of the Globe newsroom,” said Janice Page, deputy managing editor for Arts and Newsroom Innovation at The Boston Globe in an official statement. “We’re delighted that the MFA is as excited about this project as we are.”

Visitors of all ages are invited to participate in a special celebration and book launch on April 17, where they will get the chance to see Riley in action and, if lucky, get their books stamped with his paw print.

Riley’s mom, Nicki Luongo, the MFA’s head of protective services, will lead Riley in a series of scent-training demonstrations, followed by a meet and greet with the pup. First and Huddle will also be there to host a reading and sign books.

The celebration coincides with the MFA’s annual April Vacation Week, which runs from April 16 to April 19 and coincides with spring break for Boston Public Schools. The MFA offers free admission during this time with the hopes of attracting students and families on their days off.

In addition to Riley’s book release party, drop in activities, including art making, family art walks, and interactive storytelling performances will take place throughout the week. More information can be found on the museum’s website.

Featured Image Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston

April 9, 2019