After gathering dust in a storeroom for 13 years, busts of Richard M. Nixon and Lyndon B. Johnson have been unceremoniously put on display at the capitol.

Their appearances on Friday proved an instant hit with tourists, as guards called attention to the gleaming white marble likenesses of the two former presidents standing on pedestals outside the Senate chamber.

Capitol Police Officer D. V. Hughes said, "Some people thumb their nose at him [Nixon] and some say be belongs there."

Nixon and Johnson are on display because of their service as vice president and thus the official presiding officers of the Senate. Busts of 35 of their predecessors are scattered around the Capitol hallways.

"My friends," said Dean Baxter, a Houston oil man, pointing to the busts. "It's marvelous," said his wife Carolyn.

Gracie Greever, 10, of Cleveland, Miss., was asked what she remembered about Nixon, the only president ever to resign.

"Only that he had a big nose," she said, pointing to the bust as proof.

Gracie and her parents, Joe and Jane Greever, posed for a picture in front of Nixon. "It won't embarrass me," said her father, a chemistry professor at Delta State University. "I voted for him twice, I can't deny it. So whatever corporate guilt there is, I share it."

"Where's Agnew? asked Greever, looking around the room, referring to Nixon's first vice president who resigned in disgrace in 1973.

Florian H. Thayn of the art and reference division of the Capitol architect's office said artists have not yet been commissioned to sculpt Agnew or the four other vice presidents who followed Johnson's tenure.

Johnson was assigned a place in the hallway outside the Senate chamber, where he is more likely to be seen than Nixon, who is in the corner of a Senate reception room, between the chamber and vice president's office.

James R. Ketchum, the Senate curator, said the decision to display the busts was made April 30 at a meeting of the Senate Commission on Arts and Antiquities, attended by Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.), Claiborne Pell (D-R.I.) and Howard H. Baker, Jr. (R-Tenn.)

For a variety of reasons, neither of the statues had ever been put on display. The Senate appropriated $5,000 for each bust and both artists were selected by their subjects. CAPTION: Picture, Bust of Nixon is now on display in the reception room of the Senate.