What was meant to be the National Gallery of Canada's summer blockbuster exhibition, featuring the works of 19th century artist Gustave Doré, is struggling to attract visitors.

Over the past five years, summer exhibitions have attracted between 60,668 and 230,146 visitors.

The Doré exhibition is more than a third of the way through its June 12 to Sept. 14 run but has only drawn 16,777 visitors.

The director of communications for Ottawa Tourism says she doesn't think tourist numbers are to blame for the lower turnout.

"June and July have really been good from a hotel occupancy point of view, as well as from festivals and outdoor outfitters. We've been hearing good things," said Jantine Van Kregten.

"There's different issues that have an impact on museum attendance. It depends on their exhibits, definitely — whether it's from of-the-moment or a recognizable name, people like Renoir or Van Gogh, that's a brand that people know.

"Gustave Doré ... I think he's less well-known, but in terms of critics, art critics writing about the exhibit, they rave about it. It really is unique."

Josée-Britanie Mallet, a spokeswoman for the National Gallery, said construction nearby on Sussex Drive has detracted visitors.

She hopes more visitors will come to the gallery to learn about Doré — whose artwork includes large-scale canvases, huge Baroque sculptures, ink drawings and intricate engravings  — even if he isn't a household name.

"Until they see the artwork, they don't know who Gustave Doré is," said Mallet.