PEORIA — After seven years away, a central Illinois artifact with 800 years of history will be back on display in Peoria.

The "Peoria Falcon," a copper headdress created by American Indians that dates to around the year 1200 and was found near the Illinois River in 1859, is coming to the Peoria Riverfront Museum after restoration work conducted by the Smithsonian Institution.

Describing specimens like the 9-inch-high, 7-inch-wide display representing the American Indian symbol of the heavens as "very rare," Smithsonian ambassador-at-large Richard Kurin said it exemplified the artistry of the Mississippian peoples. That's a group of tribes that stretched across much of the middle and southeastern parts of the country, with sites recognizable locally that include Dickson Mounds and Cahokia Mounds.

"We literally only have a handful of objects like this" in the Smithsonian collection, Kurin said.

The Smithsonian has more than 160 million items in its collection, so it frequently lends out for short periods — or, as in this case, over an extended period likely to last decades — pieces to museums across the country for display.

In Peoria's case, it's returning nearby to where it was found by a Hennepin native during the construction of the American Pottery Company.

Storied scientist and explorer John Wesley Powell obtained it, and it eventually found its way into the Smithsonian collection. From there, it was placed on long-term loan for display at Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences — the predecessor to the current museum.

It's likely to be displayed and given pride of place in the museum's Illinois River Gallery, PRM CEO John Morris said.

Kurin said it has the power to inspire people and provoke conversations on many levels.

"We'll get some people who say, 'How did they make it?' ... There's going to be some child who's an engineering type who's going to say, 'How do you make copper? And where do they get copper from?' We'll get a geology kid ... wondering where it came from. ... You're going to get somebody who's an art major or interested in art who's going to look at this and be inspired to do paintings of it, or turn it into a comic book hero."