In preparation for the Jan. 2 inauguration of Mayor-elect Marion Barry, outgoing Mayor Walter E. Washington has cleaned his office and several hall-way display cases of mementos of his 11-year tenure, sending some of the items to his home.

The cases contained an array of plaques, statuettes, municipal seals, ceremonial keys to cities, miniature tapestries, books and sports trophies presented by both foreign and domestic visitors to the city.

Recent visitors to the mayor's outer office have questioned the propriety of the mayor's keeping some of the items himself. But yesterday Acting Corporation Counsel Louis P. Rbbins issued a legal opinion upholding the propriety of the mayor's action.

Robbins ruled that "the various... items, al of which are under $100 in value, may (legally) be retained by the mayor." Those valued at a greater amount are city property.

The only item listed as worth more than $100 was a bronze statue of Buddha, presented to the city during the Bicentennial celebration by the Republic of China on Taiwan.

Martin K. Schaller, executive secretary of the D.C. government, who over-saw the clean-out, said the Buddha statue, like most of the other items, were presented to the D.C. Public Library for possible display. Some sports trophies were given to the Recreation Department, he said.

Among other items sent to the library were some rocks from the surface of the moon, an antique telephone, a miniature Bicentennial bell and a plaque honoring Benjamin Banneker, a black surveyor who produced the first map of the city of Washington following plans sketched by Pierre Charles L'Enfant.

Schaller said members of Barry's transition team asked that the display cases be removed to make room for an inaugrual reception.

In an interview, the mayor said he was keeping for himself only a number of personalized items of no interest to anyone else, such as plaques and trophies engraved with his name and photos autographed by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

"There seems to be an implication that there is something wrong, and I can tell you there isn't," the mayor said.

In the future, Robbins said, the District should compile an annual list of foreign gifts valued at more than $100 received by the mayor or other city employes, and send it to the State Department. CAPTION:

%picture, MAYOR WALTER WASHINGTON... "there isn't anything wrong.