SPECIAL PRESS-MEDIA CONFERENCE | Thursday, May 2, 10:30 a.m.
Peoria Falcon Returns, Smithsonian Ambassador Dr. Richard Kurin in Peoria for May 2 Announcement
Event: Press-Media Conference with Dr. Richard Kurin
Date & Time: Thursday, May 2, 10:30 a.m.
Location: The Street Gallery · Peoria Riverfront Museum · 222 S.W. Washington St. · Peoria, Ill.
PEORIA, Ill. – The 800-year-old “Peoria Falcon” will be returning to Peoria. The announcement will be made at a press-media conference by Richard Kurin, Ph.D., Smithsonian Distinguished Scholar and Ambassador-at-Large, Thursday, May 2, 10:30 a.m. at the Peoria Riverfront Museum’s The Street gallery.
The circa 1200 Mississippian copper repoussé headdress depicts a peregrine falcon, a Native American symbol of the heavens. The headdress, which measures about 9-in. high x 7-in. wide, was discovered by Hennepin, Ill. native Sidney Pulsifer in 1859 near the Illinois River at Peoria Lake during the construction of the American Pottery Company. It was obtained by scientist and explorer John Wesley Powell, then a member of the Illinois Natural History Society.
When Powell became director of the Smithsonian Institution's Bureau of (American) Ethnology, the piece became part of the Smithsonian’s collections. Powell, the United States Geological Survey’s second director, had other Illinois connections. He taught at Illinois Wesleyan University, was an alumnus of Illinois College (now Wheaton College), and created Illinois State University's Museum of Anthropology.
The “Peoria Falcon” had been previously lent by the Smithsonian and was on display at the museum’s predecessor, Lakeview Museum of Arts & Sciences. It was returned to the Smithsonian for restoration work and stabilization. After its return to Peoria, it will be displayed in the museum’s Illinois River Gallery.
May 2, 7 p.m. Kurin will be presenting “The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects,” a lecture on key American inventions, in the Giant Screen Theater, followed by a book signing. The presentation is part of the museum’s “Year of Invention” programming. Visit RiverfrontMuseum.org for more information.
Richard Kurin, Smithsonian Distinguished Scholar and Ambassador-at-Large
Richard Kurin, Ph.D., is the Smithsonian Distinguished Scholar and Ambassador-at-Large, the first person so designated in the 171-year history of the Institution, and a member of the Smithsonian’s senior leadership team. Kurin served as Acting Provost and Under Secretary for Museums and Research from 2015, and from 2007, as Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture. For 20 years prior, he directed the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the Grammy-winning Smithsonian Folkways Recording and produced major national celebration events including presidential inaugurals and the Atlanta Olympics. Kurin served on the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO and helped draft an international treaty, now ratified by 170 nations, to safeguard living cultural heritage. He serves as Smithsonian liaison to the U.S. President’s Committee for the Arts and the Humanities and the White House Historical Association, and is a member of the U.S. Department of State Cultural Heritage Coordinating Committee. He is an anthropologist with a doctorate from the University of Chicago. He has held Fulbright and Social Science Research Council fellowships, taught at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, and authored six books, including “Hope Diamond: The Legendary History of a Cursed Gem “ and the best-selling “Smithsonian’s History of America 101 Objects.” He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences.
Peoria Riverfront Museum
The only multidisciplinary museum of its kind in the nation, the Peoria Riverfront Museum uses art, science, history and achievement to inspire confidence, lifelong learning, and talent. Since opening in 2012, the privately funded museum has provided more than one million experiences through major exhibitions, a permanent collection, interactive galleries, a dome planetarium, giant screen theater and educational programming including curricula-related student visits. The AAM-accredited, Smithsonian-affiliated private nonprofit museum is supported by more than 4,000 members and donors, and is housed in a county-owned LEED Gold-certified building on a campus overlooking the Illinois River. The museum has been designated one of the 200 great places in Illinois by the American Institute of Architects.