THE CHIEF virtue of this fall's art museum season may well be breadth, its unusually rich mix. Though no blockbuster exhibit i scheduled to open, thee will still be much to see.

Some of it is very old ("5000 Years of Korean Art," through Sept. 30 at the Museum of Natural History), but more of it is new. Some of it is local -- Alma Thomas, Andrew Hudson, Blaine Larson, Miles Carpenter, Henry Schoebel, Linda Swick, and Lester van Winkle will have museum shows -- but more of it will be art from far away, from Africa, India, England and the Caucasus. Cubist prints and cowboy bronzes and works from hilly Appalachia will soon go on exhibit. Already on display are exhibitions focusing on images of athletes (in "Champions of American Sports," through Sept. 21 at the National Portrait Gallery), on the cosmology of Kongo (in "Four Moments of the Sun," through Jan. 17 at the National Gallery of Art), and on the life work of a master ("Rodin Rediscovered," through Jan. 31, at the same museum). Other shows will be devoted to 19th-century American landscape paintings, 20th-century American landscape photographs, flat-woven Near Eastern textiles, and the graphics of Picasso. A number of the artists to be given one-man shows -- Arthur B. Davies at the Phillips (he organized the 1913 Armory Show) or George Bellows at the National Portrait Gallery -- have been folded into history. Others to be honored, for instance R.B. Kitaj at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, are still in mid-career.

Perhaps because money's hard to come by, numerous museums -- the Corcoran, the Phillips, the Museum of African Art, and the National Gallery -- will be drawing exhibitions from their permanent collections. And though money is hard to come by, half a dozen room-sized installations -- by Alice Aycock, Vito Acconci, and Robert Morris, among others -- will be specially constructed at the Hirshhorn in December.

September

Two shows opened yesterday. "Neil Jenney: Painting and Sculpture 1967-1980," at the Corcoran through Nov. 8, calls attention to the contemporary who used to work with fish tanks, neon tubes and tubs of algae, and who has just been dubbed, by Europe's Flash Art magazine, "artist of the year." "Appreciations: The American Impressionists," at the Phillips through Nov. 15, is the first of a series of four exhibitions featuring objects from that institution's permanent collection. The Hirshhorn, meanwhile, has re-installed its Sculpture Garden, which re-opens tomorrow. On Thursday, the Hirshhorn will open an R.B. Kitaj retrospective. He is a highly original, highly literate American-born painter who now resides in England. His show closes Nov. 15. Two additional museum shows, both of them outdoorsy, will open on Friday. One, "American Photographers in the National Parks," will remain on view through Nov. 15 at the Corcoran; the other, "Cast and Re-Cast: The Sculpture of Frederic Remington," at the National Museum of American Art, through Jan. 3, will include early, late, and posthumously cast bronzes by that master of the bucking bronco, as well as "replicas" made by other sculptors after Remington originals. On Sept. 23, "Of Time and Place: American Figurative Art from the Corcoran Gallery," an exhibit of 75 genre works from the permanent collection, will open at the Corcoran. It closes Nov. 15. On Sept. 24, "The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court," will open at the Freer Gallery of Art. It closes Jan. 28.

October

Photographer Lee Friedlander has made a set of pictures of the Hirshhorn's Sculpture Garden. They'll be on view at that museum through Jan. 13. On Oct. 2, "The Print in the United States from the 18th Century to the Present," a group of 90 graphics from Smithsonian Institution Collections, will open at the National Museum of American Art. It closes Jan. 17. On Oct. 4, "An American Perspective: 19th Century Art from the Collection of Jo Ann and Julian Ganz Jr." opens at the National Gallery. They are said to have terrific things. Their show closes Jan 31. Three additional exhibits will open Oct. 10. One, "Narrative Wood," through Nov. 29 at the Corcoran, will give four local sculptors -- Carpenter, Schoebel, Swick and van Winkle -- a chance to show in the main museum galleries. Their opening will be shared with Mark Cohen, a photographer whose work will be on view downstairs through Dec. 13. The third show opening on the 10th, "Revelations of Nature," a small exhibit of close-up nature photographs by Frank Greenwell, will go on view in the Rotunda of the Museum of Natural History. It will run through December. On Oct. 13, "Washington Works on Paper: Recent Acquisitions," will open at the Corcoran. On Oct. 16, watercolors painted by the late Perkins Harnly to record the details of late Victorian and early 20th century domestic, industrial and commercial interiors, will go on view at the National Museum of American Art. They'll remain there through Feb 15. On Oct. 18, the National Gallery will open a show of some 150 "Cubist Prints" from its permanent collection, through Jan 3. That museum, which is not averse to wooing private collectors by offering them exhibits, will give another show to "The Morton G. Neumann Family Collection of Chicago." This one will be devoted to Picasso's prints and drawings, and will close Jan. 24. On Oct. 30, "More than Land or Sky: Art from Appalachia," a large regional exhibit of recent work from 13 states, opens at the National Museum of American Art (through Jan. 3).

November

On Nov. 4, the National Portrait Gallery will open an exhibit of portraits by the late George Wesley Bellows (1882-1925), the painter and lithographer and well-known prize-fight fan. He was a good man with a brush. Artists clumsier than he was, who made pictures with machines, will be represented in "Drawing Devices and Their Products," which opens Nov. 4 at the Museum of American History. It will stay on view a year. On Oct 19, "Life/After Life: African Funerary Sculpture," will open at the Museum of African Art. A large show, it will fill that small museum on Capitol Hill, where it will remain through Feb 28. Another large exhibit, of photographs by women, opens at the Corcoran on Nov. 26. "Recollections: Ten Women of Photography" includes 200 pictures by such established figures as Bernice Abbott, Laura Gilpin, Ruth Bernhard and Lotte Jacobi. Their exhibit closes Dec. 27. Alma Thomas, the late, lyrical, Washington color painter, will be the subject of a retrospective exhibition opening at the National Museum of American Art Nov. 26 (closes Feb. 22).

December

On Dec. 5, the Phillips will open "Dream Vision: The Work of Arthur B. Davies," a member of The Eight, whose lyrical fantasies were influenced at least as much by the wall paintings of Pompeii as they were by the modernists his Armory Show introduced to the United States. His show will run through Feb. 7. On Dec. 15, the Corcoran will give an exhibition to two well-known Washington artists, Andrew Hudson and Blaine Larson. Larson makes abstractions, Hudson makes portraits of his friends, yet there is something they share. Their pictures crackle with unusual energy, and their show will run through March 7. On Dec. 17, the Hirshhorn will open a show, organized by Howard Fox, called "Metaphors: New Projects by Contemporary Sculptors." The six participating are Vito Acconci, Siah Armajani, Dennis Oppenheim, Lauren Ewing, Robert Morris, and Alice Aycock (whose last local installation, "The Game of Flyers," was shown here by the Washington Project for the Arts on a vacant lot downtown). "Metaphors" will run through February.