LIGHT is a child's delight. In the Zenith Gallery, neon curls and burns through twisted glass tubes like nobody's business. "Gretchen disappeared the minute we walked in the door," says one parent who has momentarily lost her child to neon's spell. "Children can discover neon for themselves," says another.

And yet another, "It's unlike regular museums where kids can get bored."

How could they?

There are no letters to decipher, just simple shapes of fire. In squiggly tubes, red becomes green in a high-tech ebb and flow. Pink and blue auroras circle huge clocks -- and glow. Electrified green spaghetti wriggles in a tube. And what about the comet falling with a tail of blue?

"I wish there was more," an 11-year-old says after viewing the gallery's 46 pieces and a flashy video about neon.

Her four-year-old sister's favorite piece is "Mr. Sun," a large steel tribal mask, because "it has a light inside."

Of course. The light. The delight . . . .

FIFTH ANNUAL NEON SHOW -- Runs through April 11 at The Zenith Gallery, 1441 Rhode Island Avenue NW (in the rear). Hours are Monday through Friday, 10 to 6; Saturday 11 to 6; Sunday noon to 4. 667-3483.