At the time of the dedication of the Hispanic Room in the Library of Congress, the mural adorning its south wall, depicting the coat of arms of Christopher Columbus and following a broad design developed by the architect of the room, Paul Philippe Cret, had not yet been commissioned. After deciding on the overall design for the mural and giving much consideration to the techniques with which it could be executed, Cret became interested in the use of stainless steel. His interest became known to the executives of the Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corp. of Pittsburgh, Pa., who saw in the project not only the opportunity to experiment with the use of stainless steel but also the chance to contribute to better understanding between the Americas. They therefore generously offered to provide the steel for the mural and to provide the artist to paint it. The gift, an unusual gesture of Latin American friendship on the part of a group of U.S. businessmen, was dedicated on May 27, 1940.
At the time of its dedication, the work was said to be the first example of a mural on steel in any building. In preparing it, the steel was incised in all those sections that
were to be covered by paint, and the paint itself, which was oil based, was applied in several coats, after which the whole was covered with a protective varnish. The basic
advantages of this medium were that it offered a surface that could be detached and moved at will and that backgrounds of extreme brilliance would be achieved.