An incorrect telephone number was given in yesterday's Arts Beat column. Those wishing to make appointments to see the Ansel Adams Gallery at the Wilderness Society should call 842-3400.

Some of the best work of Ansel Adams, master of photographic mysticism, is coming to Washington in October as part of a collection loaned by Adams' wife, Virginia Adams, to the National Gallery of Art. This, most eager Adams admirers know by now.

Why wait for October?

At the Wilderness Society's smooth new headquarters at 1400 I St. NW yesterday, no one was pining for fall foliage or Adams photos. Rather, they were pleased to witness the opening of the society's Ansel Adams Gallery, which holds 75 glorious prints. These were given by the late photographer to his friend and former business manager William Turnage, now the society's president.

Last night, former Interior secretary Cecil D. Andrus was presented with the Ansel Adams Conservation Award at the society's 50th anniversary buffet supper to celebrate the gallery's opening.

A beautiful gallery space -- parquet floors and flattering gray walls, the shade chosen especially to highlight the only permanent Adams collection in Washington -- spreads out before visitors debarking from the elevators on the 10th floor. Viewings are by appointment, which isn't to say the society doesn't want visitors.

"We just don't want 200 schoolchildren showing up unannounced," says Turnage.

It is an impressive collection, worth approximately $450,000. Many of Adams' greatest works are on display: the whimsical "Self Portrait" taken in Monument Valley, Utah, in which the photographer's shadow is silhouetted against a sheer rock cliff, and the magical "Clearing Storm," in which clouds float above a damp Sonoma County landscape like a real-life diorama.

And others equally as impressive, as unforgettable: "Moonrise, Hernandez," "High Country Crags and Moon," "Mono Lake," "Sand Dune, Sunrise."

"He was like a conductor interpreting a score," says Turnage of Adams' darkroom manipulations. That is not surprising, he explains, for the master photographer was also a concert pianist until the age of 33.

Call 842-4151 for gallery appointments.