I take exception to The Post articles on the Smithsonian's new Experimental Gallery {"From AIDS to Airplanes, the Tame Old Thing" and "Experimental Gallery Testing the Boundaries," Style, Jan. 30}.

I attended the opening of the gallery, and for one of the first times at the Smithsonian I was able to confront a slice of life that is topical, not one that existed 200 years ago.

Furthermore, I was able to touch things without being disengaged by a security guard. I felt that I was back in the South Bronx when I entered the house in the Las Casitas exhibit. I could almost smell the lechon asada cooking on the stove. The South Bronx and East Harlem have more to offer than "bombed out" buildings. Puerto Rican culture is just as important to this country as the settlement at Jamestown is perceived to be.

I felt with my hands at the Las Casitas exhibit, but I felt with my heart at the "Project Face to Face" exhibit. I understood these people's pain as I touched the masks. I could feel their courage. I didn't expect a smile among them.

I applaud Tom Freudenheim, assistant secretary for museums, for his vision, and Gallery Director Kimberly Camp for the courage of her convictions. The only disappointment was the exhibit from the Air and Space Museum. It reminded me of my sixth-grade science fair.

TANYA GOODMAN Washington