Today Heriot-Watt University is a vibrant forward-looking university at the forefront of innovation in research and teaching. But the history of the University began almost 200 years ago, in 1821, with the founding of the Edinburgh School of Arts, the world's first Mechanics Institute. The art collection reflects this long history. The collection reflects the history of the Riccarton Estate, home to the Edinburgh campus, as well as the history of the institution. The University has also established the tradition of commissioning portraits of its Principals from leading contemporary artists. Another area of the collection is a group of paintings by artists associated with Edinburgh College of Art which reflects the relationship between the two institutions. Highlights of the collection include three portraits of members of the Gibson-Craig family, which owned Riccarton, by Henry Raeburn. There are also more contemporary works such as 'Tulips and Indian Painting' by Elizabeth Blackadder and 'Towards the Bass Rock' by John Houston.