It was a cloudy weekday morning, and clusters of people were already forming in the dimly lit display rooms of the Gold and the Incas show at the National Gallery.
But no one was less surprised to see the enthusiastic crowds than Andres Alvarez-Calderon, the director of the gallery from which many of the ancient Peruvian treasures were borrowed for the summer blockbuster.
In fact, he seemed a little wistful. If only, he said, he could drum up half as much interest in one of the world's cradles of civilisations among the Peruvians themselves, his job would be done.
Dr Alvarez-Calderon, the director of the Museo Larco in Lima, was in Canberra on Thursday to see the show and deliver a lecture on some of the 80 items his museum has lent to the gallery for the duration of the exhibition.
The National Gallery has borrowed more than 200 objects from 10 Peruvian museums for the show, including gold and silver facial ornaments, woven shrouds and ceramic carvings, all of which have been dug up from ancient grave sites around the country.
"This is one of the best Peruvian exhibitions I have seen abroad. Believe me, that's my job, I'm usually travelling all around the world, visiting shows in which the Larco museum has participated," Dr Alvarez-Calderon said.
But he said while there was a growing fascination with ancient civilisations among gallery-goers around the world, it was often a struggle for the countries that housed such collections to get their own citizens interested.
"It's funny, but it's not just a problem with Peru," he said.
"I have seen, usually in countries that have been cradles of civilisation, such as in Egypt and in Mesopotamia, which is the case for Iraq, or in Mexico or Peru or China, the people are interested in their cultures but not as interested as foreign people," he said.
"For example, in the case of the Larco museum, we have 120,000 visitors, and just 40,000 Peruvians, and of these, most of them are school students. That's our target, because the people of our generation are not interested."
But he said this was not a failing of the people, but of the museums themselves, which had to work harder to be more accessible. "Museums for the last decade have been just a place where scholars and curators can show their ego. That kind of museum has to stop and change and be closer to the people," he said.
He prided his own museum in maintaining a collection that was "more a panoramic overview of all ancient Peru, from 3000 years before Christ until the Spaniards' arrival in 1532", he said.
But he said the most important aspect of the Larco was its curatorial approach to educating its visitors about Peruvian heritage.
He said ancient Peru was "the perfect tool" to understand ancient civilisations all around the world, especially Australia.
"All of these objects have been used for rituals and festivities and celebrations, that they had to do to make sense of the seasons and the weather, so it's interesting how in the southern hemisphere it works in the same way," he said.
Gold and the Incas: Lost Worlds of Peruis at the National Gallery of Australia until April 21.