Park Authority

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Open during regular business hours 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday

TTY 711

12055 Government Center Pkwy.
Fairfax, Virginia 22035

Jai Cole,
Executive Director

Department Resources

Trace the Origins of Silhouettes in artiFACTS

Today it’s easy to snap a selfie if you want a portrait of yourself. In the nation’s early years, people would turn to silhouette artists if they wanted a cheap and fast portrait.

In this month’s edition of artiFACTS, discover how silhouettes got their name and learn about the person who came to be associated with all things cheap and austere. The historic tale takes us back more than 200 years to a nation at war across the sea. See a silhouette from the era that you might spot one day on a visit to Sully Historic Site.

Just click on the Park Authority’s artiFACTS website to learn about this old-fashioned art form and find out what new technology led to its demise.

Each month, artiFACTS highlights an item from the Park Authority’s vast collection of historic treasures. The collection includes more than 5,000 objects, such as quilts, chairs, baskets, machines, and clothing; thousands of archival items, such as photographs, letters, maps, and other documents; and upwards of 3 million artifacts that include archaeological finds, such as spear points and pottery. From glass fragments, to clothing to furniture, the items tell the story of our region’s past.

For more information about the Park Authority’s Museum Collections, contact Heritage Resource Specialist Megan Leining at 703-631-1429 or at

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