"We've only seen the tip of the iceberg," says Arthur Rosenblatt, director of the United States Holocaust Museum, on why the fledgling institution recently issued a worldwide plea for Holocaust-related documents and materials. "I suspect there must be incredible material in attics, trunks and other hidden places."

With the museum scheduled to open in April 1991, preliminary construction work on the site near the Jefferson Memorial is starting this winter, and major work will begin in the spring. More than $47 million has been raised by the United States Holocaust Memorial Council for the modern structure designed by architect James I. Freed.

"We want everything -- photographs, diaries, original letters and notes to families from soldiers liberating the camp -- and anything," says Rosenblatt. "We've accumulated a lot, but there isn't a day that goes by when material of genuine significance isn't discovered."

Rosenblatt asks that anyone with such material alert the council, and experts will be sent out to evaluate it. He hopes that the museum will acquire new work for the display. "We don't want a replication of any other institution," he says. "We want to give this tragic story a fuller and fresher view -- something no one has ever seen before."

The council is also accepting entries for its fourth annual National Writing Contest on the Holocaust, open to all students in grades 9 through 12; the subject this year is "What Are the Lessons of the Holocaust for Americans?" The deadline is March 24, and winners will be announced by April 14.

New Kids on the Bloc

Among the problems faced by artists from Eastern Europe are isolation and lack of access to arts venues. "Expressiv: Central European Art Since 1960," now at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, is attempting to bring some of these artists to light in the West.

So is the show "Budapest in Washington," sponsored by the Washington-Budapest Cultural Exchange and Arts Interaction, a recently formed nonprofit organization that will try to bring more shows from abroad here and vice versa.

In a press release, exhibition spokeswoman Kathy Keler said, "The purpose of this exchange is to expose the artwork of these two groups to a new audience from a different culture." The exhibit of six Hungarian artists will be on view, by appointment, until March 3 at the Washington Consulting Group Art Gallery at 1625 I St. NW. Call 457-0233 for information.

The Academy's New Honorees

The American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters has elected 10 new members to its honor roll of 250 prominent American artists, sculptors, architects, writers and composers. The new members are writers Raymond Carver, John McPhee, Cynthia Ozick, Evan S. Connell, Reynolds Price and Leslie Fiedler; artists Alex Katz, Elmer Bischoff and Giorgio Cavallon; and composer Francis Thorne.

The Visitors

Lots of out-of-towners are in town this week:

The New York Philharmonic will perform tonight at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall under the direction of Zubin Mehta.

Tuesday, four British poets will read in a free program titled "Poetry From the United Kingdom" at the Library of Congress' Coolidge Auditorium. Poets Michael Hofmann, Paul Muldoon, Craig Raine and Carol Rumens will read from their new works starting at 8 p.m.

On Wednesday, critic Brendan Gill will sign copies of his newest book, "Many Masks -- A Life of Frank Lloyd Wright," Wednesday from 5 to 6:30 p.m., at the National Building Museum Shop.

Beat legend Allen Ginsberg will present an evening of readings Friday at 8 p.m. at the National Museum of Natural History's Baird Auditorium. Ginsberg is perhaps most famous for his poem "Howl," which gave some of establishment America fits 30 years ago, heralding the times that were a-changing.

And if you want to leave town, try winning a spot in the Ice Capades, which will be auditioning qualified local skaters on Friday at about 10 p.m. -- after that night's performance. Those interested must be proficient in basic jumps and spins and trained in figure and freestyle. Call the show office at 350-3400 for information.