Monsters and dinosaurs will be bringing art to life for kids at Te Papa this Saturday as the museum reveals its newest art exhibition.

Children will be able to crawl inside a goblin market, make their own shadow puppets, and explore a three-tonne dinosaur nest in the Curious Creatures and Marvellous Monsters exhibition.

Auckland sculptor Gregor Kregar was one of the artists contributing, building the shiny nest out of piles of old timber he found at a recycling station.

The wood, which was salvaged, denailed, and wrapped in silver material, has been fashioned into his piece, the Anthropocene Shelter, which houses stainless steel sculptures of dinosaurs meant to resemble metallic, blow-up toys.

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"The dinosaurs are kind of based around blow-up, sort of cheap, mass-produced pool toys, but they're obviously the antithesis of that because they're hand-made out of stainless steel," he said this week while he and his team put the finishing touches on the installation.

Kregar was inspired after spending time at the recycling station in Auckland, where he saw "mountains" of old wood languishing.

"I was always quite surprised with how much wood gets discarded all the time," he said.

"I always wanted to kind of use it for something ... this wood always just got dug into the landfill. I just thought it's such a waste.

Auckland sculptor Gregor Kregar spent months making balloon-like dinosaurs out of stainless steel for his piece, Anthropocene Shelter. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Auckland sculptor Gregor Kregar spent months making balloon-like dinosaurs out of stainless steel for his piece, Anthropocene Shelter. Photo / Mark Mitchell

"I'm taking some that was discarded but I elevate it and give it another life and present it in another context."

Weeks have gone into creating the shelter, which was installed at Te Papa over eight days. The dinosaur sculptures have taken months to make.

Kregar was excited about the "playfulness" of the installation and how visitors could interact with it.

Interactive pieces are at the centre of the exhibition, which includes small doors children can open to view tiny artworks, and special tunnels and corridors to walk through.

Te Papa curator of modern art, Chelsea Nichols, said a century-old oil painting of a goblin market by artist Frank Craig was being transformed into a new experience for kids, by allowing them to "crawl into" the painting.

An opening in the wall allows children to explore a goblin market being the painting, she said.

"We're really excited with this exhibition to get kids using their imaginations."

Te Papa brought in children from a local school and "mercilessly hounded" staff with kids to find out just what the young ones thought of the artwork going into the exhibition.

The exhibition contains a mix of works from well-known and celebrated New Zealand artists, including Judy Darragh, Francis Upritchard, Angela Singer, Alexis Hunter, Bill Hammond and Lisa Reihana, as well as renowned international artists such as Pablo Picasso and Albrecht Dürer, and historical works dating back from the 15th century.

The other new exhibition is Tony Fomison's Lost in the Dark.

Targeted at young adults, Fomison's work focuses on the dark, intense paintings he produced during the early years of his career, from 1967 to 1975.

"Fomison painted marginal figures, finding a weird beauty in the monsters, martyrs and deformed figures that live on the fringes of society," Nichols said.

"From a period of darkness in his own life, emerged these emotive and almost brutal paintings that made him one of the most important painters of his generation. Despite being about outsiders, they resonate with audiences in a way that's really profound."

The two new exhibitions will be replacing Pacific Sisters: Fashion Activists and Lisa Walker: I want to go to my bedroom but I can't be bothered on Level 4 of Te Papa, in Toi Art.

They will run until early November.