Albert J. Carter, 66, who served as curator of Howard University's art gallery from 1946 until his retirement in 1977, died of cancer Tuesday at Sibley Memorial Hospital. He lived in Washington.

Dr. Carter was known as a skillful keeper of detailed records and a authority on the history of Howard University. During his tenure there, the gallery's exhibits grew from 250 items to a collection of more than 2,000 works of art.

A native Washingtonian, Dr. Carter graduated from Dunbar High School in 1933, earned a bachelor's degree from Howard in 1938 and a master's degree in fine arts and fine arts education from Columbia University in 1940. In 1968, he received an honorary doctorate in humane letters and education from Teamers College in Charlotte, N.C.

Dr. Carter taught at Prairie View Agricultural and Mechanical College in Texas before joining the Howard faculty. He also taught at Letchers Art Gallery here.

He was a landscape and portrait artist who painted in oils. His work was shown at the Department of the Interior gallery, in D.C. Public Library exhibits, at St. Luke's Progressive Club and in private galleries. lIn 1957, he received a fellowship from the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, N.Y.

Dr. Carter served in the Army during World War II.

He was a member of Northminister Presbyterian Church and an ordained deacon and treasurer of the trustee board at the 15th Street Presbyterian Church, both in Washington.

Survivors include his wife, Hazel D., of Washington; a daughter, Gwendolyn Aqui of Silver Spring, and two grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Cancer Society.