Adrian E. Flatt, M.D., Hand Collection – Dallas, Texas - Atlas Obscura
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Dallas, Texas

Adrian E. Flatt, M.D., Hand Collection

This collection of bronze hands comes from astronauts, presidents, baseball greats, and more. 

Established by an orthopedic surgeon with a singular obsession with hands, the Adrian E. Flatt, M.D., Hand Collection collects bronze casts of paws both famous and significant. 

In his early career, Dr. Adrian Flatt was an orthopedic surgeon who specialized in hand surgery, and it was this specialization which would lead to the creation of his titular collection. The habit of taking hand casts began with Flatt’s decision to mold the hands of his patients so he could plan his surgeries. Then, in the 1950s, Flatt began making plaster molds of his fellow surgeons’ hands. From these plaster molds, he would create detailed casts as an exercise to prove that there was no such thing as “typical” surgeon’s hands.

Flatt expanded his collection during the 1960s, when he began chasing the mitts of bigger fish. Soon, he had collected bronze models from such 20th century giants as Walt Disney, Dwight Eisenhower, Mickey Mantle, and Doctor Seuss.

The collection continued to grow as Flatt gathered castings from subjects across a number of professions such as composers and astronauts. His fascination with the unique size, shape, and signature of each mitt shows through in the life-like and precise castings. The collection was finally put on display at the Baylor University Medical Center (where he also worked, teaching future orthopedic doctors), to be viewed by students and visitors alike.

The Adrian E. Flatt, M.D., Hand Collection now contains over 100 pairs of famous bronze casts.