Alfred E. Steck, 27, who was found shot to death late Sunday in the elevator of his Silver Spring apartment building, had been exhibit specialist at the Smithsonian Institution since early this year.

Before that he had served as assistant curator at the Truxton-Decatur Naval Historical Foundation, for about three years.

Since 1977, Mr. Steck, who worked in miniature sculptures in silver, replicas of human figures in environmental scenes, had exhibited at the Francz Bader Gallery and in other sculpture and craft exhibitions.

Recently he had presented in a demonstration-lecture for the International Sculpture Conference here.

He was born in Albany, N.Y. He came to the Washington area with his family as a boy. He earned an associate of arts degree from Montgomery College, a bachelor of fine arts degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, and, in 1978, a master of fine arts degree from George Washington University, where he received the David Lloyd Kreeger and Barbee awards.

Mr. Steck was a member of the American Crafts Council, the Maryland Crafts Council, the Society of North American Goldsmiths, Industrial Graphics International and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

He is survived by his parents, Dr. and Mrs. Edgar A. Steck of Silver Spring; a sister, Marlene S. Drerup of Reston, and his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. T. L. Anselment of Troy, N.Y.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Alfred E. Steck Memorial Award Fund, in care of the sculpture department at George Washington University.