Hundreds of descendants of soldiers who fought at Gallipoli have attended a private viewing of an exhibition at Te Papa in Wellington which commemorates those involved in the war.

"Gallipoli: The scale of our war" depicts monuments of seven soldiers and a nurse in moments frozen in time.

Each work is 2.4 times human scale.

Exhibition creative director and Weta Workshop co-founder Sir Richard Taylor today told the visitors he and his team were determined to create something unique to commemorate Gallipoli.

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"[We wanted to] give respect to memories on the scale that they deserve."

The free exhibition cost $8 million to develop and will run for four years.

It attempts to tell the story of the whole New Zealand army, Sir Richard said.

"We hope when visitors leave this experience that they carry more wisdom so that the spirit and the sacrifices of these young men and women are never forgotten."

It was one of the most important and enjoyable collaborations that Weta Workshop had been involved with, he said.

Te Papa chief executive Rick Ellis said he believed the exhibition was the most significant in the museum's history.

"The end result is simply stunning."

It did not glorify war or shy away from questions around war, he said.

Minister of Culture and Heritage Maggie Barry said World War I impacted the country on a scale "few could have imagined".

"It had a profound impact.

"This tragedy touched every home, every community, every workplace, every church, everyone in New Zealand at that time."

The exhibition would engage the young and not so young, Ms Barry said.

Lead curator Kirstie Ross said the exhibition challenged certain myths around the eight-month Gallipoli campaign.

"Our job as historians and curators is to uncover the human stories and not shy away from the tough realities."

Exhibition historical director Dr Christopher Pugsley said the exhibition would determine how New Zealanders remembered the campaign for the 21st Century.

In addition to the figures, the display also included 3D maps and projections, miniatures, models,dioramas and interactive experiences. The display will be open to the public from tomorrow.

Dressed for battle

Large scale models

: - Each figure is 2.4 times larger than life- It took just over 24,000 labour hours to build and install the eight large scale figures in the exhibition- Each sculpted figure weighs between 90kg and 150kg

Uniforms

- The uniforms were pattern made from both original and other replica uniforms- The combined weight of the sculptures' uniforms is over half a tonne

Hair/eyelashes/eyebrows

- Each weft of hair weighs about 110 grams - Human hair was used on the top of the heads- Facial hair is a mix of human, horse mane, horse tail and yak tail hair