The permanent collection in Kettering dates from 1905, the year after the new library building opened, but eight years before the Gallery was added to it. There was a gift of a library, by American philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, to the town in 1904. Kettering-born artist Sir Alfred East, RA (1844-1913) wanted to make art accessible to the locals, The collection was started when, The Connoisseur, a portrait by Walter Bonner Gash of a well-known antique dealer with a shop in the town centre, was purchased by local subscribers and presented to the town as a possible foundation for a permanent art collection. In 1910 on the occasion of his knighthood East presented one of his own important works, Midland Meadows, to the town which was followed in 1911 by a representative selection of his works (70). Money was raised for a purpose-built gallery and Kettering Urban District Council commissioned local architects, Gotch and Saunders, to design the new building. The Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire, the Earl Spencer, officially opened the Alfred East Art Gallery on 31st July 1913, just months before East's death.
The Alfred East Art Gallery, Library and Manor House Museum (GLaM) has just over 900 pieces of work, in a variety of media including oils, watercolours, etchings, printmaking, photography and sculpture and includes a significant number of works by local artists Thomas Cooper Gotch, Ralph Hartley, Harry Dorr, George Harrison, John Nettleship, Wilfred Hawthorn and Walter Bonner Gash. More contemporary works are represented by artists such as Alan Davie, Joan Eardley, Howard Hodgkin, Terry Frost, John Hoyland, William Scott and Eduardo Paolozzi. GLaM is undergoing a redevelopment programme and is currently closed (2023).