Richard Louie, 51, associate director of the Smithsonian Institution's Arthur M. Sackler and Freer art galleries, died Oct. 7 at Washington Hospital Center as a result of injuries he had received in an Oct. 6 traffic accident.

A spokesman for the Arlington Police said Mr. Louie was walking near the intersection of South 12th Street and Glebe Road when he was struck by an automobile. The accident is under investigation, police said.

An authority on the Far East, Mr. Louie joined the Smithsonian in 1978 as an assistant director of the Freer, which is internationally known for its Asian art collection.

In the 1980s, he helped plan and organize what was to become the Smithsonian's second museum of Asian art, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

In 1989, he was appointed associate director of the Freer and Sackler galleries. Since that time, he had helped direct the construction and renovation projects now under way at the Freer, which closed to the public in 1988 and is scheduled to reopen in 1992.

During his years with the galleries, he had worked in financial management, fund-raising activities and personnel matters. He also had edited catalogues for museum exhibitions.

Mr. Louie, who lived in Arlington, was a native of Cleveland. A 1960 graduate of Princeton University, he earned masters' degrees in Far Eastern studies and in economics at the University of Washington. He also studied the Chinese language at the Inter-University Program for Chinese Studies in Taipei in 1963 and 1964.

He came to Washington in 1966 and spent the next four years as a research economist with the Institute for Defense Analyses in Arlington. After that, he worked in private industry in Tokyo and New York City before returning here in 1975.

For the next three years, he was a principal economist with the U.S. Postal Service.

Survivors include his wife, Katherine Preciado of Arlington; his mother, Gam B. Louie of St. Louis; and two sisters, Maie Lin Carrell and Sue Fay King, both of St. Louis.