The Scarab Club was founded in 1907 by a group of artists and art lovers who enjoyed meeting regularly to discuss art and socialize. The desire to form an arts organization in Detroit during the first third of the 20th century was partially intertwined with the birth of automotive design and the evolution of advertising art inspired by the burgeoning automobile industry. Although generally viewed as a heavily industrial city, Detroit’s artistic community thrived from the success of the automobile.
Many of the original founding members of the Scarab Club consisted of automotive designers, advertising illustrators, graphic artists, photographers, architects, and automobile company owners. Scarab Club members inspired each others’ artistic spirit by entering their artwork in the Annual Exhibition of Michigan Artists held at the Detroit Institute of Arts under the auspices of the Scarab Club from 1911 to 1928 and the DIA from 1929 to 1974.
The club's themed costumed balls, which began in 1917, were a significant social event in Detroit. Life Magazine covered the 1937 Ball featuring a two-page photo spread. The Detroit News and The Detroit Free Press published two pages of photogravures of costumed guests beginning in 1917.
Besides hosting various events, such as the costumed Scarab Club balls for members and others to attract the general public, the Scarab Club managed working artist studios that still continue today. Since its founding in 1907, the Scarab Club continues to be a driving force in the artistic community and is proud to serve Michigan as a cultural stimulant for artistic diversity in the 21st century.